TRUE/SLANT - 9 DECEMBER 2009
After 9/11, when we were all flailing and searching for direction, I drank too much. We all did. We hand-rolled cigarettes, listened obsessively to NPR, and got really familiar with all the -Stans.
In the midst of all the epic Sy Hersh stories and On Point broadcasts from Boston, there began circulating these insane cartoons. Illustrated only with clip art, the strips were searingly critical, explosively funny -- digs at us, at you, and at them. No cow was sacred.
The name of the new phenomenon was as strange as the content was sophisticated: My New Fighting Technique Is Unstoppable. We were entranced. Then suddenly it was Get Your War On. We still sought it out, even trying to make contact with the writer. Then just as quick, the work was appearing on the editor's letter page in Rolling Stone.
We moved on. But the writer kept working. I lost track.
Now -- and for some time -- he's lived on True/Slant, where his fiery production continues.
Somehow, the clip art comics always felt like they could have been made by anybody. Their very anonymity gave them a feeling of ubiquity, as if they'd always already been there -- some spontaneous and natural birthing in the bowels of an office building.
But his stuff on T/S has more voice. It's clearly written by a guy named David Rees.
Take his bio:
I'm a freelance wine consultant and budding fashion-industry insider. I used to make a cartoon called "Get Your War On." I'm looking for friends and business contacts ... My motto is "Make that money, drink that wine."
You should check out the rest. It's scary stuff, somehow. And though I'm not as fragile or as obsessed as I may have been in fall 2001, I'm still susceptible to his laser beam of hatred/disappointment -- we all are.
So I wait and I watch and I wonder where he's going. I'll repeat a refrain most recently expressed by friend and colleague Reihan Salam: We're now getting old enough to see our contemporaries -- no longer strivers, outsiders -- step up and do the big and weighty work of setting the cultural agenda. With a guy like Rees, I take some satisfaction in knowing he'll most likely be around, making work, for another several decades.
But what will he -- what will any of us -- be butting up against when 9/11 has become a footnote to some new, urgent way of coping?