Last week I was on a forced vacation. Now, by forced I mean that I have accrued so much vacation time that if I don’t take some time off of work, my job will take the time away from me. They won’t pay me for it either. So my supervisor took it upon herself to assign me some much needed time off. I didn’t argue or disagree, I just took the time. Unfortunately I was a bit ill during my down time and I ended up sleeping on the couch or in bed the whole week.
I’m not one to just sit around and do nothing. I normally like to stay busy in my daily life but when I am immobile I am usually found with my laptop in front of me or a good book. (Ok, sometimes a not-so-good book) By Wednesday afternoon I was sick of being sick, had not much of a voice left and was burnt out on television and computer time so I decided to do a bit of cleaning around the house. I grabbed my trusty dust bunny catcher and went on the hunt of those elusive beasties that seem to disappear into the cracks and crevices of the wooden floors of my home. This is of course after I’ve chased them down the hallway and into a bedroom, bathroom, dining room, living room or kitchen. But on this particular hunt one decided to hide under my bed. A well known breeding ground of dust-bunnies across the seven continents and even space, or so I’ve been told by some semi-lucid, absinthe filled astronauts who like to wear diapers as the cross our country in search of lost loves.
I spied this obscenely pregnant dust-bunny attempting to squeeze its amble rump under my bed in an attempt to hide from me. I quickly leapt across the room with my electro-statically charged dust-bunny collector in my fully extended arms hoping my five foot eleven inch frame was close enough to capture this indomitable beast.
As I landed face first next to the bed, the bunny temporarily trapped in the force field of charged ions known world-wide as a “Swiffer” my celebratory elation was short lived as I witnessed my prized beastie attempting to break free. As my eyes adjusted to the shadows under the bed my eyes focused on a stack of long forgotten pulped paper. I searched my memory as to what books I may have stored under my nightly support but I those vaporous reminders of my past were as elusive as the dust-bunnies I’d been chasing.
I set aside my cleansing weapon and crawled further under the bed in an attempt to reach the stack of forgotten memories. The lack of light and my aged eyes did not allow me to determine what books I was reaching for and as my left hand landed on top of the stack of slick, soft cover paper and a flood of joy and laughter filled my brain. (This is the curse of having a tactile memory.) I knew as soon as my hand touched the first book what the entire stack contained and I could not help but smile to myself and extract myself quickly from the fibrous underbelly of my box-spring mattress.
I sat up and leaned against my nocturnal comfort and looked at the forgotten treasures that I was placing in my lap. They were of course my omnibuses of some of the best cartoon strips from the 1980’s, Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury and my all time favorite, Bloom County. I flipped through the ten pound stack of published goodness and pulled out my favorite of them all. Billy and the Boingers. A book that tells the tale of a death metal band called Deathtongue who gets dragged before the Tipper Gore run PMRC for lyrics of an obscene nature. I remember when the strip first was published how I rooted for the fictional band to stand up for its artistic rights and fight the good fight. But, like real life, the band buckled and they changed their name to Billy and the Boingers, a new political band that is dedicated to helping fix society’s problems through charity and awareness.
But the book held more than just that one story line, there were satires based on the Meese commission, Lee Iacocca, the iron curtain, and of course the wayward travels of the Starship Enterpoop to the lusty, busty and wanton planet of Mary Lou Retton clones… I’m smiling as I type this on my front porch because my frontal lobes are filled with a little ol’ lady screaming “Shut Up Lloyd and arm the photon torpedo tubes!” as she sits in her Chrysler K car with a wheel chair barreling down a hill towards them with Cutter John, Opus, Hodge-Podge and Portnoy screaming for death and vengeance of the occupiers of the Klingon K car.
Yes, I had been truly sidetracked that day and in the days that followed I managed to revisit some of my teenage and early twenties friends from the inky pages of the daily rags that ended up on my porch. I laughed at Calvin’s snowmen, was nervous about what was hiding in Brinkley’s “Anxiety Closet” and cheered when Cutter John was released from the clutches of certain doom from the KGB in Soviet Russia.
When I finished my journey to the eighties I went to the internet to see what sort of madness the modern kiddies are reading, I am sorry I did. The only two strips that seemed to catch my attention were “The Boondocks” and “Luann”. Yes, Doonesbury is still out there and still fun but I think it has lost a bit of its impact on American Politics. (Besides, “The Duke” seems a bit… sad. Sorry to all my HST fans out there. I am disappointed too.) Yes, it seems the great tales in the daily papers have faded out through attrition. I know it is not an easy task to maintain the fires of vigilance against our elected officials and their endless antics in this world. But you would think that someone somewhere would pick up the fallen crown of daily strip satire.
While I wait for someone to be brave enough to fight back against the government, Hollywood, lawyers and big business I think I will go and read the entire catalog of “The Boondocks” I like these characters and the writer is not afraid… of anything.