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Aug. 13th, 2015 05:33 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Karl Marx’s first big job was writing about the American Civil War. As it happened. Socialism had been around for a long time by then. Marx hadn’t written Capital yet.

In a roundabout way that I can’t really explain, this confluence of circumstances is how we got to where we are right now. We can’t talk about Karl Marx without talking about the Civil War, and we’ve spent a hundred and fifty years not talking about the Civil War (to the point of letting nonsense like Gone with the Wind through), and it’s easier to just tie this to our national belief system of Capitalism and declare Marx to be the Anti-Capitalist who therefore Must Not Be Read.

Who cares what the primary contemporary European commentator on the Civil War said? He drew economic conclusions that we didn’t like. It’s all discarded.

And therefore all European intellectual insight into our most profound crisis is banished. We don’t have to think about it.

Pretty convenient.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

261 fief

Aug. 10th, 2015 11:03 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Egads, I have lived among earthlings for four decades and still don’t know what a wrist looks like. HOW CAN THIS BE?

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

The question is whether Tron is a story about a place that is not what it seems to be, or a place full of people who cannot be what they are. Either way it leads to a lot of hackneyed fight scenes, and that’s what I find fascinating. Here we have people who are clearly not where they say they are. There is no part of your computer that does that.

And all they can think to do is fight. They fight for each other’s amusement. With the addition of Tron Legacy to the canon, which does a wonderful job of elucidating the thematically bland Tron with brilliant visuals but no additions to the story whatsoever, I think we get closer to the question of what the Grid is.

It’s Faerie.

Literally. It is the land of dreams. It is obvious that we are not inside a computer, but inside the dreams of a computer. Or, to be more precise, the dreams of a bunch of CGI animators.

By not dealing with this problem at all, Tron has allowed itself to describe it perfectly, much like a handful of scattered sand can reveal the outlines of a hidden door.

Or I hear that it can. I’ve never tried it, but I’ve seen it in movies.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Sometimes I get it into my head that a film is better than it possibly can be, and 2013′s “The Lone Ranger” is such a film. What should be a sterile, aimless waste is an unexpected labor of strange love, a lush romantic remythologization of the Western for the 21st century tied to the complete rebirth of a forgotten legend.

Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp, prime movers behind the Pirates of the Carribean series, brought the Lone Ranger to the screen in 2013. It is one of the most unusual blockbuster action films ever released. Designed as a love letter to a franchise that nobody remembers, the Lone Ranger functions as an elegy for a myth and a recasting of the Wild West in a way that resonates with a modern audience. It is successful as both an action movie and as a work of art, but it missed its mark with the theater-going audience of the summer of 2013.

Depp’s Tonto and Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger race the clock to stop the villains from robbing, stealing and killing the town, the railroad, the lonely widow woman and the last of the Comanche. The action is so over-the-top as to be hilarious; this is not a serious film. However, in between being a lot of fun, the Lone Ranger manages to be honestly deep.

Recounting the various levels of framing and commentary in the film would take a much longer article than this. Suffice to say, the myth of the Lone Ranger is thoroughly deconstructed and artfully rebuilt, settling the foundations of the story squarely upon Tonto. The focus of the narrative is literally lifted from the Lone Ranger and placed on Tonto, who now becomes the central figure of the legend and the main character in all but name. The tragedy of Native American history in the Old West is no longer politely ignored in the grandiose vision of our mythic past promulgated by The Lone Ranger. Instead, it takes center stage. The riddles and contradictions inherent in Lone Ranger and Tonto are given a “zen” significance, and the very concept of the morally valuable blockbuster action picture is taken to its logical extent.

The film was not a box office success. It cost $225 million to make and $150 million to market, but it only earned $260 million internationally upon its initial release. American critics found themselves baffled, and audiences responded with similar disinterest. The Lone Ranger is not a film that anyone was asking for. It is not a well-remembered franchise. Instead, this is the result of a lifetime of meditation upon stories and myths. Because the Lone Ranger is essentially a finished franchise, the story is complete, and any comprehensive comment upon it becomes a comment upon the whole. This movie is a labor of love from a man who has spent many decades thinking about this myth and what it means.

This film does nothing less than point to a new understanding of the American story.

Bruckheimer and Verbinski are telling the audience that, by changing the way America looks its past, the nation can come to terms with it. The history of America is painful, and the Lone Ranger is an indelible part of that history. This film is an attempt to directly address that connection between fiction and reality, allowing audiences a cathartic opportunity to grieve for the mistakes of the past, celebrate the victories and move forward together. All that is needed is to understand that the Lone Ranger was never, ever alone.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Bambi carries a strange freight of ritual and lore. It is unlike any other movie, and it is not seen in the same way as any other movie.

Until recently, the vast majority of American watched Bambi exactly once in their life. They went to a special place to see it, where they sat in an enormous dark room filled with other children who all viewed the film in silence, eating special sugary foods that they do not normally eat at home. Americans normally watch Bambi around age five, and then, until well after the invention of the video cassette recorder, they usually did not watch it again. Only parents of young children would ever again enter the sanctum and take part in the adventures of the young king of the forest, Bambi.

When they did, they were surprised by what they saw. Our unusual method of viewing the film has also affected the way we remember it, and most people do not recall it clearly. The early scenes, in which Bambi frolics with Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk, are ingrained in all our memories. There are few things more deeply burned into our culture than the way Bambi’s mother dies. Even though it happens off-screen, the shock and terror of Bambi’s loss resonates. But the film does not end there, as the death actually occurs quite early in the film. After that there are forest fires, young love, fights with a pack of hunting dogs, and Bambi even gets shot. He survives, but nothing after the death of his mother entered our collective memory.

This peculiar film and ritual has now persisted for more than four generations of Americans.

One last thing: the opening shot is from the point of view of a predator animal — the plane of view is perpendicular to the direction of motion. It is also carefully monochrome, but limnal. It’s a pretty good guess at how a one-eyed deer would see the world. Which means that it’s a pretty good reminder of how hard it is to see the world as anything other than yourself.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

American Horror Story season 4: Pretty. Pretty dumb.

It is made from bits of stories and they never come together. There are constant hints of some of organizing principle, something that makes some sort of larger sense. But it is not really there. It is shapes in the smoke. The show is dedicated to getting as much screen time as possible for as many people as possible as they thrash through a soap opera encyclopedia and a CD of creepy music cues. I’m not aware of anything the show has to say except “Mothers can’t be trusted” and “Everything happens and nothing matters.”

With that in mind, here is some of my favorite fan art for the show. I don’t know who made any of these.

American Horror Story s04 tumblr art (1)

American Horror Story s04 tumblr art (2)

American Horror Story s04 tumblr art (3)

Radio Free North Hollywood.


Jul. 23rd, 2015 03:57 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)


Radio Free North Hollywood.


Jul. 20th, 2015 03:48 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

I had a really good lead for a while there, and then I lost it, but now I’m really determined to get it back. There are serious projects impending, and many things I need to do, and I want to get this story squared away for a while. So I want to do a panel a day for a month or something incredibly ambitious that I know I won’t get done.

Another things is that, looking back over these panels, they are wildly inconsistent in style and visual tone. The method I use from panel to panel varies to a degree that you’d almost think I’m joking. I know that’s all part of the plan, that this is a sketchbook story project and that part of the fun is seeing how my skills evolve, but it’s a bit distracting sometimes. This means that I need to simplify and take more shortcuts, because my penchant for re-inventing the wheel every panel is stopping the story from rolling. So me being lazy translates directly into better story for you, so be assure that I shall endeavor to try.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

I got my Legos back.

I had the same bunch of Legos all through childhood, kept them until my 20s aka my second childhood, then added substantially to them when my friend Wayne Green left his collection with me. They ended up in Kentucky, in the care of my friends Marshall and Cara and their two daughters Sierra and Willow.

And they sure did take care of them.

The idea was always that the Legos would come back to me when I had a kid of my own, that only took fifteen years longer than expected, but my kid is here now and she’s old enough to play with little plastic chunks, so I went over to get them.

Holy Toledo, the collection has thrived. It’s at least half again bigger than it used to be, maybe twice the size.

We’re not sure how many Legos there are, where they came from, what they’re worth. There’s 70s Legos house bricks mixed in with 80s Legos spaceship and castle pieces, weird experimental 90s stuff and then we get into the movie tie-ins. There’s a Lego basketball court with spring-loaded Lego players who actually throw the ball. It’s baffling. Nobody can tell how much they’re worth because you could never buy a collection like this, assembled from the edges of forty years of childhood and now passed on to the next generation.

My daughter has been denied wooden blocks and Lincoln Logs, but by God she will have all the plastic bricks her little heart desires.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Working out dental issues and the payment thereof, big adult fun.

Just one more prize you win for living in America — ridiculous medical bills that should never be sent to a private citizen, and figuring out how to pay for them.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Well, I’m forty.

Never expected to live this long.

So far, so good.

Radio Free North Hollywood.


Jul. 6th, 2015 11:17 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

I really do enjoy commerce. I’m a half-assed capitalist.

As you may have seen, I played with the title for a long time, but I’m willing to settle down and admit that this is the one. It works better for a lot of reasons. For one, the different spelling does subtly affect pronunciation, and it gives people something to hang their mental hats on, instead of something that sounds like a high-pitched fart.

Another reason is that, after printing many copies and looking at many copies and selling many copies, I decided I liked this way better.

I like the idea of a story that doesn’t have a precise name. That’s so retrograde and antifuture and unGoogle that I love it.

And, after seeing this story in the hands of many people, I am beginning to understand what it’s about. It’s my way of dealing with the future. My way of taking the future in manageable chunks. It isn’t really science fiction, except when I feel like it.

Radio Free North Hollywood.


Jul. 2nd, 2015 11:20 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Occupy Frank was unaware of the ancient Rainbow tradition against going to the Black Hills without the invitation of the Lakota, so he manipulated Vision Council into an unprecedented split decision that cleverly maneuvered the scouts into finding a site in the contested territory between the Lakota and the USFS, provoking a reaction that split the Gathering into two factions, hereafter referred to as NORF* and Big Dinosaur**, one of whom refused to go to the Black Hills while the other insisted that everyone should go. Meanwhile, AIM and possibly the Grandmothers of the Lakota began gearing up to do some sort of roadblock or blockade as the family slowly realized that we were taking sides in a sovereignty fight between the USG and the Lakota, and we were on the wrong side, as well as distracting attention from a desperate fight against a uranium mine. Splinter gatherings developed, including the Antiques Roadshow on Mount Shasta, which happened to be on a Modoc holy site, so now the Modoc are agitating for the same level of respect that we were supposed to be giving the Lakota, but didn’t. Meanwhile, the rest of us are just going to Turtle Soup in Michigan or over to Shawnee, in southern Illinois.

Tell me that doesn’t sound like I made that all up.

*National Occupy Rainbow Family
**My favorite conspiracy theory: There’s a lot of money to be made in the Black Hills by paleontologists, what with their fancy government grants and museums. So the people who are trying to keep the Rainbow Gathering from overrunning the Lakota are obviously being paid by the fossil industry. Not fossil fuels, fossils.


Radio Free North Hollywood.


Jun. 29th, 2015 11:13 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

And here is the piece that I’ve been working on for the last month. It’s the cover to a comic that I have been working on, I’ll give you more details as they become clearer.

If what you think you’re seeing is a monkey with a katana attacking a dudebro with a rose tattoo and a nonfunctioning garden hose while the members of the Captain Planet team look on in varying attitudes of dismay, then you’re right. I consider this an accurate representation of the future of humanity.

I haven’t actually gotten to read the script yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.

If you’re curious, about thirty hours went into this. Yeah, I know, I took too long. But I was really having fun with it.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

FIEF 249

Jun. 25th, 2015 08:38 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Because of utter madness with the Rainbow Gathering, putting a new roof on my parents’ house, doing a commission and now my daughter accidentally biting her tongue and spending the night in ER, I am a bit behind and you’ll just have to look at this lovely painting I did for Houston Zine Fest/Menilfest this year.

Gaze ye upon it! See ya on Monday with more of Leda’s exciting misadventures….

Radio Free North Hollywood.

fief 248

Jun. 22nd, 2015 07:10 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

The comics industry is the reductio ad absurdum of hard work. Comics takes the smartest, freest spirits it can find and says, “I know a way you can work twice as hard for one tenth the profit.” Comics is like running with lead weights on, because if you ever took the weights off you’d be able to run like the wind, but you’re never going to take the weights off, because that would be quitting. Comics will take you to the most amazing places, none of which you will be able to afford.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

247 f13f

Jun. 18th, 2015 06:03 am
geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

There’s nothing quite like the dawn on a Kentucky morning.

But I’m not ready to move back to Kentucky yet.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

UPDATE: Added important words about Michigan at the end. Sorry Michigan! You are a beautiful state with beautiful people, I did not mean to insult your mitten-shaped goodness.

we demand

What happened is a magnificent fuck-up. Please, bear with me. This is complicated.

What happened is that a young person took more power than he should have been able to and made a spectacularly unwise decision, and the old people are just not immune to hearing what they want to hear. Are you? Nobody in this whole world is.

What happened is Occupy.

We sent Occupy out into the world, and they learned our system and took it to the next level. I don’t know if you know how Occupy works, but they use Rainbow’s consensus-based council system for decisions. However, unlike Rainbow, Occupy wasn’t made of vagrant misanthropes who hate talking. It was made of shiny new and optimistic bright young things, and they took our politics to the next level without taking the trouble to inform us.

So this Occupy kid came to the Gathering for the first time in 2012, and of course he feels right at home, and of course he fits right in, and he jumps right into the Vision Council process, and of course he owns it right away. Because he knows all about councils and building consensus. But he doesn’t know a thing about Rainbow. He doesn’t know you’re supposed to sit through a council or two before you start talking. He thinks of the Black Hills of South Dakota, but he hasn’t been around long enough to know why we don’t think of the Black Hills. He has the skills but no wisdom.

That’s why South Dakota was wedged into the Vision Council Consensus!

And of course everybody ignores it, and says it’s gonna be in Michigan, because everybody knows there are no sites in Vermont and everybody knows that every couple years some wingnut gets South Dakota into their head, they just got it farther this year, no big deal and it’s easy to avoid.

But this kid isn’t a wingnut. He’s a player.

Seriously, you should read what he wrote. He played the Council like a harp. I learned a thing or two about peacenik Machaevellianism from his description of how he got this through Council.

So he actually manages to wedge SD into the Consensus, and then he actually goes and does the legwork. He goes to the Black Hills and starts asking around.

And this is where it turns to tragedy.

Because we’ve been waiting for an invitation for thirty years, but this kid doesn’t know that. He just goes and pokes around Pine Ridge and says, this is great! Everybody wants us, come on over. I met this guy at the gas station and he says he likes hippies.

So he tells the scouts.

And the scouts and the oldsters and the High Holies, they have been waiting to hear these exact words for thirty years.

I don’t know if you know this, but we’ve been pining away for a long time, wanting to come home to the Black Hills. We want to be invited. We have been waiting and waiting to be noticed and taken seriously, and it’s never even vaguely happened. The Lakota have better things to do than hang out with incoherent anarcho-utopianists, and they have not been paying attention to us.

But these guys have been pining away, just waiting for the Lakota to ask them to dance. Because this is a big deal, and it has always been a big deal. We want their respect. We want them to treat us as equals. We want to earn it.

And then this kid comes and tells them exactly what they want to hear.

And, god love every one of them, they believe him. Because he’s not a wingnut. He’s a player. I don’t think he even necessarily knows that he’s playing people.

So the scouts go to the Black Hills and they have a great time and meanwhile off in Babylon we’re all just doing our thing, assuming they’re exploring Michigan for another bug-infested shithole like 2002. So nobody tells them, hey, we can’t do this, we don’t have an invitation. And they think they have an invitation, or close enough to it, and anyway they’re so good at what they do that they’re pretty used to nobody telling them what to do. So they do what they do, and nobody’s telling them different.

And now here we are.

The Lakota do not seem to remember issuing that invitation.

Now the Rainbow family is in a bizarre argument with the Lakota, supporting the USFS against the sovereign custodians of the Black Hills. Breaking our own traditions to do so. I don’t know if you know this, but the Lakota never gave up the Black Hills. They were taken after a treaty that they refused to sign, paid for with money that they have refused to accept, and generally wrangled away from them in a process so disgustingly corrupt that even the United States Supreme Court said we had to give the Black Hills back. Which the government refused to do. Even the UN supports the Lakotan claim to the land. So why are we acting like the Black Hills are an American national forest? Is that what we want?

Obviously fucking not!

Since when do we carry water for the USFS?

Since never.

Don’t we have a tradition against Gathering in the Black Hills before the Lakota invite us?

Why yes we do.

So the internet (me definitely included) kicked up a screeching fit, trying to get the people at Council (who obviously feel that gathering in the Black Hills is okay, since they’re there) to put the brakes on and move the site from Spring Council. Even though the next nearest site is in Michigan. Which we already know, from 2002, sucks in the summer. And it’s like 400 miles away. This is totally unprecedented — we’ve never moved more than fifty miles from Spring Council for the actual site, except in 2002, when we went to the site in Michigan, which sucked. Plus I hear the Black Hills are really nice. So the people on the ground, they don’t want to move. They were not originally amenable to the idea that what they were doing had ramifications that they hadn’t seen.

But the kid who set it all up, he’s figured out he did wrong. The scouts are apparently out in Michigan, desperately looking for something we can use (the reason they’re in Michigan is that the Vision Council consensus was for the Great Lakes, Vermont, and South Dakota. It is the craziest consensus in the history of Rainbow, which is why sane people ignored it). There are *hopefully* a lot of protest voters on the way to Spring Council, and the internet has CERTAINLY made its displeasure clear.

There are regionals springing up everywhere because nobody wants to piss off the Lakota — I didn’t sign up for an ethically compromised land grab disguised as a party and neither did anyone else.

I really think we may be able to stop this. We’ll find out when Spring Council meets, which is….later today!

And while we’re looking for places to have some of this year’s inevitably split Gathering, can I just say….


UPDATE: I can understand how some people, when reading this, could get the impression that I was insulting Michigan. I apologize for my words, they were poorly chosen there. What I’m saying is that the 2002 site in the Upper Peninsula, which we were forced into by governmental pressure, was wildly unsuitable and had the worst bugs that I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. It was literally a bug-infested shithole, and by shithole I mean that the ground was clay and we had 8,000 people living on a logging road and it rained all the time so the latrines filled up with water and it just generally did not smell good.

And the deer flies were so bad they would even bite you underwater!

If you were at the 2002 Gathering you can understand why few of us are enthusiastic about going back, especially to another emergency site. I didn’t mean anything against the Great State of Michigan or the people who love it!

And by the way I had a GREAT time at the 2002 Gathering. Changed my life, met some of my best friends I’ve ever had, grew as a person, caught pneumonia and had to stay at CALM for a week, ended up volunteering there for ten years straight.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Maybe the real reason Tron and films like that are so scary is that they posit a world where computers are pretty much running everything and doing computer things and only keep us around to fight for their amusement.

Deep down we all know interstellar combat won’t be exciting, at all. It’ll be asteroids hitting cities from millions of miles away, spaceships instantly flash-fried by lasers on the other side of the sun. There will be no human drama, only instant cessation of life. Any movie you see them fighting with swords in space, flying their combat starfighters in space, infantry advancing in ranks with a 3d banner of their Fearless Leader held over their head is impossible. The only way that could ever occur is if somebody built a perfectly functioning society — or a robot that built such a thing — and then let us fight on the surface, like two cavemen strangling each other on the hood of a car. Star Wars, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and Avatar all describe the worst-case scenario for humanity. They are neither more nor less realistic than Tron.

Radio Free North Hollywood.

geoffsebesta: (pic#722732)

Sometimes I wish my art style would level off and be consistent from piece to piece or even panel to panel. But I’m also glad that I keep improving. I’ve been looking back at work I did a year ago for ten years now and every time it’s horrifying how clumsy and inexpert it is, and the stuff from five years ago is just nightmarish. What brightly-colored goo it all was.

I guess if I have to stand for something I might as well stand for constant improvement.

Radio Free North Hollywood.


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