Episode 161 – Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow) LIVE & #NJPoet Corner

25658819300_a145b75eb8_z

Virtual Memories Show #161:
Dan Perkins (Tom Tomorrow) LIVE + #NJPoet’s Corner

“Satire is the art of exaggerating for humorous emphasis and to make a point, but how do you exaggerate Trump?”

Last July, I talked to Dan Perkins (aka Tom Tomorrow) as he was launching a Kickstarter to produce 25 Years of Tomorrow, a massive quarter-century collection of his This Modern World comic strip. It was way more successful than he anticipated (356% overfunded!), so at his book launch party at Mark Twain House in March, we recorded an on-stage followup conversation, plus audience Q&A! Give it a listen! And buy 25 Years of Tomorrow!

“Does political humor date? Sure, but I was writing about gun control and healthcare reform 25 years ago.”

tmw-tmw25Dan & I talk about the challenge of satire in this day and age, the benefits of operating under a pseudonym, the ways his life and work have changed as a result of the Kickstarter process, the ongoing labor of his production partners, Topatoco and Make That Thing!, looking back at 25 Years of Tomorrow, the mixed blessing of the internet, the doors that opened when he published a 1,000-page collection, whose hatred cheers him the most, why the internet is like Soylent Green, and more! Go listen and then order a copy of 25 Years of Tomorrow!

“It’s all fun and games until the crazy man is in the Oval Office.”

DSC_04361

This episode is also the launch of our new monthly feature, #NJPoet’s Corner, where we’ll talk with philosopher-historian-zen-monk-poet Charles Bivona! (That starts around the 50:00 mark)

Also, if you want to find out who Dan and Chuck are reading nowadays and get a list of the books we talked about in this episode, join our Patreon and become a monthly contributor to The Virtual Memories Show! At the end of March, the new episode of our patron-only podcast, Fear of a Square Planet, will go up with a bonus segment about who they’re reading and why.

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Dan Perkins, better known as Tom Tomorrow, is the creator of the weekly political cartoon, This Modern World, which appears in approximately 80 newspapers across the U.S., and on websites such as Daily Kos, and The Nation. His work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Spin, Mother Jones, Esquire, The Economist, The Nation, U.S. News and World Report, and The American Prospect, and has been featured on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Herblock Prize in a ceremony at the Library of Congress, and in 2015 he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He received the first place Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism in 1998 and 2003, and has also received the Media Alliance Meritorious Achievement Award, the James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Professional Freedom and Responsibility Award from the Association for Education in Journalism, and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. In 2009, he collaborated with Pearl Jam to create artwork for their album “Backspacer“. Dan has published 9 anthologies of his work, and one mega-sized 15-pound, two-volume slipcased edition of 25 Years of Tomorrow.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission of the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Mark Twain House. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue enCORE 200 microphone feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro. Photos of me and Dan by Beverly Gage.

Episode 112 – Remainder

Virtual Memories Show:
Clive James – Remainder

“I should have led a more balanced life, but that’s easy to say at the end of things. When you’re caught up in what you’re doing, it’s very hard to be reasonable. And art isn’t really made out being reasonable.”

sentencedClive James was diagnosed with leukemia and emphysema several years ago, but the poet, essayist, memoirist, novelist, TV host, and charter member of the Virtual Memories Show Dream List hasn’t let his ailments silence him. He joins us for a wide-ranging conversation about poetry, mortality, binge-watching Veronica Mars, writing Cultural Amnesia (one of my favorite books), being Australian despite 50 years in the UK, how his showbiz career hurt (and helped) his literary legacy, and a lot more. We talk about his two new books — Poetry Notebook (Liveright) and Sentenced To Life (Picador, UK only) — and the ones he’s working on, and how he faced two choices after his diagnoses: lie back on a couch, admire himself for his achievements, and sign off; or go on as if he had forever. Give it a listen!

“All that poetry comes in handy when you lie there, contemplating the end. The question is why: Why when your body is about to come apart, is there such appeal in reading such highly organized argument and imagery?”

Clive James on the Virtual Memories Show

We get into the role of culture, the future of the Middle East, his first encounter with a Jew, the books he made a priority of when he realized his time was short, why it’s okay for actors to be shallow, and how he wrote a critique of Daniel Goldhagen while dressed as a mariachi singer for a TV show in Mexico.

“It’s possible to say that if I’d just concentrated on my literary activities [instead of working on TV], I’d have had a less complicated reputation. The question never would have arisen: Is he serious enough to write seriously?”

We talked a lot of books in this one. Here’s a list:

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Born in Australia, Clive James lives in Cambridge, England. He is the author of Unreliable Memoirs; a volume of selected poems, Opal Sunset; the best-selling Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts; and the translator of The Divine Comedy by Dante. He has written for the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). You can find a longer version of his bio at his site.

Credits: This episode’s music is El Cholulo by Tosca Tango Orchestra. The conversation was recorded at Mr. James’ home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Logic Pro. Photo of Mr. James by me.

Soft side successfully deployed, sir!

Now that Obama has crossed the delegate finish-line for the Democratic nomination . . . it’s time for the finger-pointing! Today’s WSJ has a fun article that details the mismanagement, backbiting and strategic idiocy of the Clinton campaign.

For a while now, I’ve been marveling over the Clinton camp’s contention that the Obama has had a free ride, what with his, um, being, half-black and having middle and last names that are markedly similar to those of America’s recent public enemies #1a and #1b.

Even more audacious, I thought, was the complaint that sexism was holding Sen. Clinton back. This was utter BS, as the candidate actually benefited from the lowered expectations the public has for women. Think back to the days before the New Hampshire primary in January, when Sen. Clinton cried on camera. It’s clear to me that if a male candidate had done such a thing, he’d be laughed off the campaign trail as a weakling (I deleted several much harsher terms before settling on that one).

(Oh, and her crying-jag lament of, “I have so many opportunities for this country. I just don’t want to see us fall backwards,” struck me as a really chilling choice of words.)

The WSJ article is a hoot, because it explores what a mixed-up organization Sen. Clinton assembled, in concert with her lack of understanding of the nomination process. One of my favorite lines was about the campaign’s chief strategist, Mark Penn (dutifully put through the Drew Friedmanizer, below):

Critics’ bigger complaint was that from the campaign’s start Mr. Penn had been its only pollster. Other campaigns typically use many pollsters to provide alternative views; Sen. Obama has had up to four. Ms. Solis Doyle says that throughout 2006 and 2007, she urged Sen. Clinton to add more. Sen. Clinton told advisers Mr. Penn is “brilliant,” and multiple pollsters would slow consensus on strategy.

But top aides chafed that Mr. Penn used his control of “the numbers” to win most disagreements. “He could go straight to the [former] president of the United States, who in turn got to Hillary,” says a senior strategist. “After a while, people just shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘Hey, look, this is how she wants her campaign run.'”

Mr. Penn defends his polling analyses, and counters that others were responsible for budgets and field operations. “The misleading thing here is, the title of chief strategist connotes that I was in charge of things,” he said. “It was a much more complex structure than any title connotes.”

Anyway, congrats are in order to Sen. Obama and his campaign. As Eddie Griffin recently put it (according to Page 6), “Barack Obama is about to get the Democratic nomination. It’ll be the first time in history that a black man beat a white woman and didn’t go to jail for it.”

Beer-goggling at the WSJ

Last November, I wrote about how the Wall Street Journal’s infamous headshot illo-style — which I like to call The Drew Friedmanizer — had a vested interest in, well, portraying Hilary Clinton a bit unflatteringly:

Nowadays, I think they’re more concerned about derailing Sen. Obama’s campaign. Why, in today’s article about how both Democratic candidates are pandering sacks of shit reframing their messages on free trade as they campaign in Indiana and North Carolina, Sen. Clinton has been transformed:

Maybe she visited Glamour Shots by Deb.

(I like the carefully placed flag pin, although I think giving her a pearl necklace is a bit cruel.)