It was 2008. We just gone through 8 horrible years of Bush, and then elected a president who at the time rode in on a wave of hope and change. And before he became a bit of a disappointment, he was nothing short of a superhero. So much so, that some company in Japan made an action figure out of him.
Sometimes inspiration strikes in the oddest way. I spent a year of my life making a trashy political comedy movie after I saw some drunk girls dancing on a bar in Washington DC and I thought they might be Washington interns gone bad (more on that another time, I promise). These pictures of this completely over the top Obama action figure inspired me to create a comic with them. This was not actual Obama. This was 70’s blaxploitation Obama. I heard that cat Obama was one bad mutha… shut yo mouth! …but I’m talking about Obama …then we can dig it. This was the Obama that could be in a Quentin Tarantino movie, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Like Wu Tang Clan, this Obama was nothing to fuck with.
Any comic book hero needs a trusty sidekick, and there are no better sidekicks in a political comedy than Joe Biden. And while there are an assortment of inept villains, they are led by one big bad boss, who could only be Dick Cheney.
I did 5 pages a week for a while, hosting it on the now defunct today.com, where I’d get paid some measly scraps if I could drum up enough traffic for their ads. They sold their domain to either the Today show or USA Today, I can’t remember which and I honestly don’t care. They had very little respect for the people creating content for them and I called them out for it on one of the strips. There were some really horrible right wing bloggers in that community, and often when the character of Right Wing Blogger Guy had something to say, it would be a direct quote from one of them. I used some pretty harsh words about them, but when our blog bosses kicked one of them off the network, even Action Obama had something to say about it.
If you read through, you’ll clearly see the point where I lost that sunshiny hope. Once the real Obama became less of a hero, creating this comic became less fun, and I stopped abruptly. It was a wild ride while it lasted. That was pretty much my last attempt to be a political blogger, and I had an absolute blast with it for a while. When you cover politics in a comedic way, you can get away with being an asshole about it. When you’re using characters you can say things you would never say in your own voice. This stooped to some pretty low brow places. I try to use less gratuitous cursing in my writing now, though I sometimes can’t help it if the types of characters I write tend to be big old potty mouths.
So now, for the first time in one big ass PDF…
Wow, I’m blogging again, twice in one week even. This must be a record for me lately. Remember when I used to post random things several times a day, before social media made it so much easier to get the attention of everyone I knew rather than hoping that random strangers might somehow make it to my personal website and like what I have to say or share and maybe even comment on it? Things are very different now. Nobody is going to read your blog if it reads like their facebook feed. You need to have something that stands out.
At this point the only reason I’m writing here is to get back into the practice of writing regularly. I am fairly certain that not a damn soul is actually reading it (at least until I start shamelessly pimping it on the aforementioned social media again). Besides being out of practice of writing regularly, I’ve also fallen far behind on my tech skills. I was actually a web designer in what feels like a lifetime ago. I’d whip up a user interface in Photoshop, slice it, dice it, create animated rollover buttons and then turn that into my template and then use Blogger to upload it right to my site. Do people even do it like that anymore? Technology keeps evolving and I eventually got into other lines of work and didn’t keep up. So now I’m trying to do the blog thing again with an ancient template that needs some serious work. I need all the right plugins, sharing buttons, rss feed stuff, and possibly some kind of ads that are not by google since apparently I am banned for life from using their ads after urging my readers to click and click and click on the ads for various politicians’ campaigns during the 2008 election cycle. I’d like to hope I personally cost Mike Huckabee’s campaign tens of dollars before the axe fell, but it was probably more like tens of cents.
The whole reason I’m dusting off the cobwebs here after all this time is because I’ve joined a local writers group. I need to get back into writing and having a blog is the perfect venue for doing that, even if at the moment it’s just for getting back into the habit of writing something, anything, on a near-daily basis. Last night I attended my first meeting, and met some very cool and talented people. There was a lot of interest in my zombie work in progress. One of the people there is a virologist, which is a very good profession to know when you’re dealing with a viral-borne undead apocalypse. And another one had just published a zombie short story. You can read that here. I really love how she was able to hit everything that terrifies us about zombies with such an austere economy of words that makes it all the more challenging. When you’re writing a whole story in a page, every word counts!
Meeting others and discussing my project was a very positive thing. Hearing that there is interest in what I’m doing always helps, but putting it out there that I’m working on it makes me actually have to not just talk about working on it as I have been for the last few years, and actually work on it. I better not fuck this up and llok like an idiot!
Another year has gone by and I haven’t written a damn thing. OK, that may not be entirely true. I write a lot on facebook. A lot of sarcastic snarky stuff to my new circle of local friends. Though in that venue I seem to communicate more by meme than by prose. Figuring out just the right couple of words to go at the top and bottom of an image can be a good exercise in wit, but as far as brain exercises go, it’s kind of like just doing a couple of push-ups.
So there’s this novel I started writing about 3 years ago. It’s a comedic zombie story, set in Oakland at the beginning of the Occupy Oakland movement and featuring a cast of activists, academics, musicians, cops, bikers, politicians and political aides. I got about 80 pages in and then lost steam on it. But I would really like to finish it. The last time I completed a longer work, it was my screenplay, and that was 13 years ago. I hadn’t really thought of it much until a friend had asked me to write something, and it turned out pretty good, though I didn’t finish that either.
Now remember those new local facebook friends I mentioned a couple of paragraphs up? Well one of them runs a group for local writers. I happened to join that group today. And what do I see? “Blog Monday.” And I thought that I have a blog that I haven’t used in over a year with my own domain name that I just considered not bothering to renew just last week. But I renewed it anyway, mostly because it’s my damn name and would rather not let one of the other Jason Buckleys out there get it. I already get a lot of their email. There are the ones in Canada and LA who are both involved in film. One of them got invited to an awesome bachelor party in Vegas that I considered showing up to. There’s the one in Mississippi whose online dating matches were coming to me. I sincerely hope met one of the women I picked out for him. There’s even the Australian one who I spoke to briefly 15 years ago and I think might be a massage therapist because somebody in Darwin tried to book an appointment with him just yesterday. There’s even one with a right wing father in law who sent me some crazy email about Obama not too long ago.
These are all good guys as far as I can tell. And I’m sure any of them could probably do good things if they owned the domain (except for the one with the right wing father in law!). But given that I’ve had it for so long, back when I was sure that by now I’d be famous for something, or at least infamous, that I should just double down and get back to it. I like to write. I have a lot to say. I’m still really not sure if this blog is going to have any focus or just be like some kind of writing exercise, or if anyone is going to even read it. But what the hell, I’ll give it another go and see what happens. And maybe I’ll even change my header graphic to something with a bridge closer to where I live now.
Afghan Whigs were one of my favorite bands in the 90’s. In a musical landscape of a lot of divergent genres of music, many of it exploring very new at the time sounds and taking influences from each other, this hard edged band from Ohio started incorporating elements of old soul music. Their first couple of albums were good, but then Gentlemen came out in 94 and took it to a whole new level. This album was pure perfection from the first note to the last. The lyrics would break your heart and put it together again. This was emotional on a level that would put the emo kids to shame. It comes from a place in the heart that most people don’t even have. Many of the Gentlemen b-sides were straight up soul covers, like Dark End of the Street and My World is Empty Without You. While staying true to the originals, they brought darkness and a punk rock sensibility to it all. They continued in that vein on their next album, Black Love, which I can only describe as dirty white boy soul. They released one more album after that, 1965, which I haven’t really given as much of a listen to as the others, and then broke up, only to reunite a couple years ago for some reunion gigs. And now they’ve got a new album coming out in April. Here’s the first single with a really cool looking video!
I can’t believe the Grey Album is 10 years old. 2004 was shortly after I had moved to California, and the new exciting thing the kids were doing with music at the time was mashing up songs together. Many of them were amateur, but there were some that were plenty of professionally made ones. And then Jay Z released an a capella version of The Black Album and a bunch of people mashed that up. The best one was Dangermouse’s mashup with the Beatles’ White Album to create The Grey Album. Helter Skelter and 99 Problems are both classics, and they go very well together.
Just for the hell of it, here are two more 99 Problems mashups after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »