April 13, 2016

"As soon as I arrived in Crumb’s small village, I sat at his kitchen table as Aline his wife shoved some rabbit ragout in my plate..."

"... and Crumb sat next to me and started to critique my recent Julian Assange interview in minute, precise detail. Dude, two hours ago I was at the Tate with this delicious blonde Texan girl as she explained to me the fascinating restoration of this Rothko painting that a crazed performance artist had defaced a few years prior. I was sad that she had ditched me to fly back to rat-infested Austin, so disgusted she was that I made her stay at this mice-infested musicians’ drug pen near the subway stop for Turnpike Lane, where the fundamental Islamist terrorists live. 'Boy, you tore this guy a new asshole,' the uptight, pervy, demented cartoonist with the appalling face ravaged by millions of hours of onanism told me as I was putting to my mouth what looked like a tomato-covered rabbit’s anus. My editor at the Observer—yes, there is such a thing as editors, and just because something reads as though it wasn’t subjected to Hearst’s five rumens of copy digestion doesn’t mean it’s 'unedited'—was putting his career on the line sending me, after I had harassed him for weeks, in the land of the Sorrow and the Pity to talk to this has-been. Crumb, of course, like all cranky Primitivist old coots, doesn’t believe in computers so his assistant, a church mouse maid, had properly printed and stapled my piece on Assange for him...."

From "Robert Crumb Is Dead — to Me/Cage match pits legendary cartoonist against enfant terrible profiler" by Jacques Hyzagi, which I'm reading because it's in The New York Observer, where I got shunted from my usual launch point Memeorandum, which ranks news items by the attention they are getting and has as its top item right now the Observer's endorsement of Donald Trump for President. I clicked to see that but had a words-of-one-syllable reaction upon reading the first sentence: "Donald Trump is the father-in-law of the Observer’s publisher." I needed to get somewhere else quick... needed to consume something cleansing and that tomato-covered rabbit’s anus did the trick.

26 comments:

Phil 3:14 said...

There was a time when writers/quasi-journalists weren't so self absorbed.


Or am I mis-remembering?

Laslo Spatula said...

You need to be a 'twenty' to parse all of that, I think.

I am Laslo.

dbp said...

Lots of mouse and rodent references for such a short excerpt: I couldn't decide if it was a purposeful theme or lazy writing.

BDNYC said...

That was unreadable.

Ann Althouse said...

"I couldn't decide if it was a purposeful theme or lazy writing."

Just because something reads as though it wasn’t subjected to Hearst’s five rumens of copy digestion doesn’t mean it’s 'unedited.'

Ann Althouse said...

The part written by me is at grade level 14.

The part written by Hyzagi is at grade level 17.

Writing this post got me rereading this section of Paul Johnson's "Intellectuals":

"But Hemingway had had the advantage of an excellent training on the Kansas City Star. Its successive editors had compiled a house-style book of 110 rules designed to force reporters to use plain, simple, direct and clichĂ©-free English, and these rules were strictly enforced. Hemingway later called them ‘the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing.'...

"On this journalistic basis, Hemingway built his own method, which was both theory and practice.... He once defined the art of fiction... as ‘find what gave you the emotion; what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so that the reader can see it too.’ All had to be done with brevity, economy, simplicity, strong verbs, short sentences, nothing superfluous or for effect. ‘Prose is architecture,’ he wrote, ‘not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over."

I agree with that, mostly, and would like to see the Kansas City Star's 110 rules.. as well as whatever is being referred to as "Hearst’s five rumens of copy digestion "

Ann Althouse said...

Here is the Kansas City Star's style sheet of 110 rules.

Laslo Spatula said...

"You need to be a 'twenty' to parse all of that, I think."

Referring to Murray's test from yesterday's post, not grade. For my own clarification.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

I think I was subjected to Hearst’s five rumbles of copy indigestion.

I am Laslo.

bagoh20 said...

Fascinating! Did the rabbit have a name?

tim maguire said...

I love R. Crumb's work and respect his place in graphic arts history, and know from an old documentary that, odd as he is, he is the most normal person in his family, which should count for something, but, that said, why should anyone care what someone who doesn't even use a computer thinks about the particulars of Julian Assange? How could someone like that possibly know enough abut the issues involved to have an opinion worth listening to?

dbp said...

The 110 rules are great, some because they are still valid, some because they are so out of date:

One I liked because it makes sense:

“The voters will choose among the several candidates,”
“not between” the several.” “Choose
between two candidates is correct.

One that might be true, if we electrocised prisoners anymore.

The prisoner was electrocised, not electrocuted.

Ann Althouse said...

"Referring to Murray's test from yesterday's post, not grade. For my own clarification."

Yes, I knew. And I appreciated you comment and the humor in it. Sorry to step on it.

Ipso Fatso said...

Jacques baby is trying his hardest to write like Hunter S. Thompson. It was boring 40 years ago and is still so today.

robother said...

But even Hemingway was trapped by the 20th Century media-driven need to be his own fictional character. Seems like the Observer writer is bummed out that R. Crumb isn't in fact Mr. Natural. I say, what was the point of all that deconstruction if not to realize that art is neither essentially the artist's nor the viewer's.

Darrell said...

NeverTrumpers eat rabbit assholes.

Paul Snively said...

Hyzagi's autobiographical writing is a turgid, unreadable, mean-spirited mess.

His interview of R. Crumb is insightful and even playful and seemingly sympathetic. So apparently, it's true. Sincerity's the key. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

I found myself absurdly touched by the observation that Crumb's cartoons are sweet but subversive, innocent but rough, and that his wife had pointed out the same thing, presumably trying to encourage him. It's interesting, this "nice guy overwhelmed by thoughts he knows fully well are dark and degrading." In interviews, the late H.R. Giger of Alien and Necronomicon fame seems much the same.

Clayton Hennesey said...

But even Hemingway was trapped by the 20th Century media-driven need to be his own fictional character. Seems like the Observer writer is bummed out that R. Crumb isn't in fact Mr. Natural. I say, what was the point of all that deconstruction if not to realize that art is neither essentially the artist's nor the viewer's.

I had the good fortune to meet and lunch with Robert once upon a time, before he left for France, and, yes, he's as normal (at least on the outside) as apple pie, notwithstanding his family history. It's this account of him linked here that reads like a Crumb cartoon, all inky crosshatch and spiky female leg stubble.

Darrell said...

Wasn't Hemingway really taught how to write by that English lesbian that owned a bookstore in Paris?

Guildofcannonballs said...

This piano-reporter does indeed write and play his own music.

"Lloyd: It's about time the piano realize it has not written the concerto!
Margo: And you, I take it, are the Padreweski who plays his concerto on me, the piano?"

AlbertAnonymous said...

As I was reading the post I thought it was going to be the winner in one of those "worst written paragraph" contests. Good Lord that's some stuffy writing.

Robert Cook said...

I read this yesterday. This writer published a recent interview with Crumb that is fine...interesting and informative. This follow-up reads as if the writer has gone off his meds, or is somehow resentful of Crumb and wishes to paint as ugly a portrait of Crumb and family as he can, or simply wants to exploit his brief access to Crumb in as sensationalistic and crass a way as possible simply to aggrandize himself. Whatever the case...he failed, as he makes himself look like the biggest ass in the world.

Fernandinande said...

bagoh20 said...
Fascinating! Did the rabbit have a name?


R. McBunnyface.

mccullough said...

That was a pretty funny article. Not a bad takedown.

AReasonableMan said...

I didn't have a problem with the article. Fame whores doing what they do.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.