61: Socks Are for Farmers
A fun set of memories, and the Violent Femmes
In addition to the music mentioned above, I have memories of Mike turning me on to The Zombies’ “She’s Not There,” which was a cool old find. Years later I would get into Zombies’ singer Colin Bluntstone’s solo work too - very good, very Sufjan Stevens. Also, Mike played me the interesting, insane Arlo Guthrie song about a motorcycle and a pickle, as well as “Alice’s Restaurant.”
Graceland, from a perspective
Paul Simon’s Graceland’s complicatedness has lasted decades. I have more than one draft article about that record, and have recently watched several documentaries about it and its controversy. But without mentioning the boycott-ignoring creation of the record, to us, at the time, it was revelatory. It was one of the first portals for us to African music, at a time shortly before “World Music” became a marketed thing, and I am grateful to Graceland for that - like I am grateful to Joe Jackson for introducing me to jazz, and to Mike for the Violent Femmes. The portals and signposts that help us find what we love are important: the world is full of stuff to enjoy, and the people and circumstances and clues are the accidental curators of our taste.
If you don’t know this band’s first record, the self-titled folk-punk classic, you’ve missed something important. Fix that. Gordon Gano was himself in high school when he wrote most of the first record, which was an interesting counterpoint to George Michael, who’d written the world-famous-forever “Careless Whisper” at the same age.
The Free Times Cafe is still there, still great. I had to stop performing when the cost of doing so became clear: I would follow up each show with a week of crushing depression. I don’t think it would happen now - I was in a place, then. I have a tape of one show from 1995 and have digitized a couple tracks - I share one here for historical interest’s sake. I sound really young.
Before that, though, a song from the guy who encouraged me to start playing: Allen Desnoyes played a few songs that night with Mike, and played in a Michael Hedges kind of way. I talked to him after, and told him I loved guitar but I had tragically waited too long to learn, and now it was too late. I was 20. Allan laughed and corrected me, telling me I could learn three chords and play a thousand songs, that I didn’t have to be Michael Hedges or Adrian Belew playing, that music could be pretty easy. He gave me his tape, Naked in the Alley, for free because I had no dough. I still have it. That summer I got my first guitar and started playing. So thanks to Allan Desnoyes, too.
Introducing the “jep” Font 1.0
I’ve been experimenting with a font-building program, in hopes of making my work a little more readable. At one point, I was using a regular font in my comics, but that was distancing. I’ve worked since then to perfect a hand-written style that is consistent, but still hear the odd complaint that it’s hard to read. So: the strip above is the first to have my “jep” font. I like it, but I need to fine-tune some of the letters (the Os and Ss) and figure out the kerning etc. It should evolve and improve, but I like it already. Thoughts?
I hope this finds you well. Spring is here. Go outside. Oh and if you like this, please share it.