Friday, August 28, 2009
Cartoon: HEROES of a GREEN TOMORROW!
Senator Kennedy, Hero of LGBT Rights!
Click to enlarge
I did this front-cover tribute illustration for Bay Windows' special Kennedy tribute issue. The idea was Kennedy as an LGBT rights hero, so I looked to vintage superhero comic book covers for inspiration:
The editors tell me the reaction to the cover was so positive they're framing it and sending it to the Kennedy family.
And here's the final cover with logo on top:
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
RIP Ted Kennedy
Friday, August 14, 2009
Raj Patel on "The Honey Trap of Ethical Consumerism"
I've been reading a lot of books about food lately—food politics, the food movement (and cookbooks, too). My front-runner favorite so far has been Raj Patel's inspiring/scathing Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. His book is much more international than the others, gets into worker, farmer and community food struggles (and successes) around the world and doesn't have a myopic focus on what individual Americans can or should do about their own personal habits. It's about global justice, not personal food purity.
For example, in the otherwise wonderful film "Food, Inc.", after exposing the horrors of factory farms and CAFOs, Big Ag, processed foods, pesticides, GMOs, horrifying working conditions, etc., the film ends with a bizarre feel-good "don't worry, you can vote for good food three times a day" message (get it? you can buy sustainable/local/ethical food three times a day!). But that just ain't enough, any more than replacing a few lightbulbs or buying adorable green products is enough.
One of my favorite passages in Stuffed and Starved comes in the conclusion, when Patel takes a moment to skewer the fantasy of good consumerism:
The honey trap of ethical consumerism is to think that the only means of communication we have with producers is through the market, and that the only way we can take collective action is to persuade everyone else to shop like us. It alters our relationship to the possibility of social change. It makes us think we are consumers in the great halls of democracy, which we can pluck off the shelves in the shops. But we are not consumers of democracy. We are its proprietors. And democracy happens not merely when we shop, but throughout our lives.But wait! there's more!
The connection between those who eat and those who grow food cannot be measured in terms of brand loyalty points or dollars spent. To short-cut the food system, and to know the people who grow our food, is more than to broker a relationship between buyer and seller. It is to build a human contact that goes beyond a simple transaction and that recognizes certain kinds of commonality, certain kinds of subjugation, and struggles, fights, for an end to the systemic inequalities in power which shape the way rich and poor live today. The food system, as we've seen, creates poverty at the same time as it produces an abundance of food. It fosters hunger and disease through its mechanisms of production and distribution. And it was forged in large measure because of the fear that urban workers and rural peasants would jump out of their social positions. That they would demand equality. The system was designed to siphon wealth from rural areas, with just enough redistributed to keep people quiet. But people acting, en masse, for equality, has been the only force that has changed the world. This is what makes food sovereignty far richer, and more enriching, than an ethical form of hedonism for those able to afford it.
Also on the topic of the limits of ethical consumerism and individual action, I came across this great piece by Derrick Jensen, "Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change", a point he also makes in a graphic novel co-authored by my pal Stephanie McMillan, As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial.
More cartoons by me on related topics:
- "Fun Times at the Supermarket"
- "The New Green Hummer"
- "Quick Fixes for Every Crisis!"
- "Confessions of a Closet Conservationist"
- "Quick and Easy Guide to Conservation"
Cartoon: Bloggers Without Book Deals
Click to enlarge
Even though I mock the concept, I've found myself reading and enjoying quite a few of these "one-year blog project" blogs—even the ones with book deals. Such as:
- Julie Powell's The Julie/Julia Project, which became Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen and eventually Julie & Julia: The Movie. If you haven't heard of this one you've been under a rock, and I admit to picking up the edition of Julie & Julia with Amy Adams on the cover and the edition of My Life in France with Meryl Streep on the cover (I was at a train station news stand, ok?). I have to admit the movie half about Julie Powell's blog project left out most of the fun bits—her self-deprecating humor, her friends' romantic mishaps, her rants against Republicanism, the flies and maggots. But whatever, I generally enjoyed the movie and there were no celebrations of high-heeled shoes to be found. I even made cassoulet before going to see it.
- Colin Beavan's No Impact Man blog, about to be launched as a book ("No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet...") and a documentary. It's about a New York family who tries to reduce their carbon footprint to as close to zero as possible, even eschewing public transportation, elevators, toilet paper and packaged goods from the farmer's market. It's educational and inspiring, but I worry that the focus is too much on individuals choosing to reduce. Still, at least he rejects green consumerism and silly half-measures and I love the anti-consumption message.
- Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.Another inspirational tale about a family, in this case a family on a small farm in Virginia, attempting to eat as locally as possible for a year (including growing and preserving their own produce and raising chickens and turkeys for eggs and meat). Just a book and website, not so much a blog, but it's a similar type of project, and quite eye-opening. I even ordered the 30-minute mozzarella cheese-making kit she mentions. My only gripe was the random rant against vegetarianism, which seemed odd coming from someone who rejects CAFO meats. Even Michael Pollan (guilty of a similar weird treatment of vegetarianism in The Omnivore's Dilemma) has come to the conclusion that it's not enough help to the environment to just eat free-range meat—Americans need to eat WAY fewer meat and dairy products.
P.S. I have nothing against tripe or offal (if you're going to eat meat—which I do—might as well make use of every bit) though I doubt they would be palatable in cereal form.
P.P.S. I am quite myopic and did once (accidentally) get the wrong glasses prescription. I went around with what Kurt Vonnegut would call a "whanging headache" all day, bumping into all sorts of fun walls and whatnot. No fun! But not particularly blog-worthy.
P.P.P.S. I got so caught up I forgot to mention the other reasons I loved Kingsolver's book--my grandparents had a farm in Maine, and when I was a kid, my family had a huge vegetable garden and fruit trees and kept ducks and chickens. We had fresh duck eggs for breakfast on weekends and made homemade applesauce, peanut butter, pickles, canned stews, the works.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Cartoon: The Power of Prevention
Click to enlarge
This was loosely inspired by a real woman who called into NPR (I think it was the Brian Lehrer show?) to rage against health care reform and a public option. At first she went on some typical rant about how the evil socialists wanted to force everyone to pay for health care for sick, lazy and old people. She followed up with a sanctimonious self-congratulatory bit about how wonderfully healthy SHE was due to her yoga and consumption of organic and local food and how she didn't need health insurance due to her pure diet.
In other words, for her, sick people were lazy and immoral, and getting cancer was their own damn fault. It's not just this random radio caller, either -- I've increasingly heard that argument elsewhere (especially in talk over the "obesity epidemic").
Sure, yoga is awesome, and local and organic food are fabulous, but they aren't marks of moral superiority or magical wards against disease and illness is not a moral failing. (And isn't the local/sustainable/organic food movement supposed to be about building community and protecting the environment and improving worker conditions for everyone... not just an individualistic way of keeping impurities out of your own special body?)
I wanted to scream through the radio. "Lady, ANYBODY can get sick or injured, no matter their age or diet or yoga skill level!" (Anybody can, say, trip inside their apartment, break their foot, have complications, and need six months of tests and treatments and therapy--lucky me I have health insurance!) Also, EVERYBODY ages.
We need affordable, comprehensive universal health care that doesn't discriminate on health conditions, in which everyone shares the risks—and reaps the rewards when they need it.