Friday, April 13, 2007

Vonnegut's Gone

Johnny Hart now Kurt Vonnegut. I can hear Mark Knopfler singing "Vonnegut's Gone" to the tune of his song Donegan's Gone from his excellent LP Shangri-La.

As a tail end boomer - born in '60 - I am beginning to realize that we are watching our pop culture icons begin to enter the mass exit phase. I mean CBC had a story on Vera Lynn and I was all braced to hear she had passed away only to be informed that it was her birthday. There are fewer weeks passing where we don't hear of another person passing away who we have know about or who's work we have seen, read, heard and appreciated.

Mortality - what a concept! My apologies to Robin Williams. At least he's still alive. Isn't he?

I remember that my parents used to mention almost every time I called or visited with them in their last years that someone they knew has died. Now my wife is reading the online obituaries. Well as either Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde or Will Rogers said, "Every day I don't find my obituary in the paper is a good day."

Man, this kinda sucks. And we don't even have grandchildren yet! No wonder guys buy Corvettes and Harleys when they hit 40 to 50. My problem is I can't afford either. Well maybe I can build another scale model. I'll know desperation has set in when I start collecting 1:18 scale copies of OCC and West Coast Choppers bikes.

Still, Kurt was great writer. Guys like him are rare. Rarer still to get to the top and get noticed these days. Nobody reads anymore. And I haven't even met Ray Bradbury or Harlan Ellison yet. I haven't written the "Great Canadian Novel" - mostly because Robertson Davies, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood have already claimed all of the decent territory.

Does blogging count?

For anything?


Time's a wastin'!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

To Hart From the Heart

This was my comment @ PVP Online regarding the passing of B.C. comic strip creator Johnny Hart. Search for the one submitted by "ZetaC".

I appreciated Johnny Hart’s wry and witty social commentary more than anything else. In one strip, Thor – Hart’s erstwhile inventor and wheel rider – is showing Wiley – the ensemble’s prince of sarcastic wit – his latest invention, which is obviously a sundial. Thor asks Wiley, “Do you know what I’ve just created?” Wiley takes a beat and replies, “A entire race of neurotics?”

Now THAT’S funny. And if you don’t think so Johnny and I dare you not to look at your watch once for the next hour.

In another strip the turtle and bird pair are coming in for a landing after having just flown south together for the winter (The bird does all the work). The running turtle trips and they careen into an inconveniently located tree. The bird shakily quips, “Man, I’ve taken better trips on a sugar cube!” Put than in its 70’s context and smoke it.

Johnny was funny. He was aware of the world around him. He had opinions – some of them others did not like – but he stuck to them. His feet were made of no more clay than yours or mine and – at least in my case – he spent my whole life writing the little jokes, tales, fables and doings of a bunch of unlikely, misanthropic, anachronistic cave men and women – whom I grew to know well and appreciate.

As long as I’ve known about Johnny Hart he has been creating something – nothing too dangerous or evil – unless you believe that the creation and expression of thoughts and ideas is too dangerous or evil for anyone to pursue who doesn’t have your specific approval.

Like him – hate him – whatever. He spent his life trying to make people laugh and maybe think at the same time if the opportunity arose – or if an obvious pun didn’t present itself. I think Johnny really did “Think Funny” and if more of us did that there might be less stuff for us to get all twisted up about.

Vaya con Dios, amigo!

My apologies to Johnny if I have misquoted his work. I know I haven’t mistaken his spirit.

'Nuff said!