Pas de tables

February 1st, 2007 | Travels and Appearances

in france they have no tables

Here I am having dinner in Paris Monday night. Did you know that in France, they have no tables? It’s true. This was a lovely meal I had at Hélène & Ghanima’s apartment. Hélène teaches at the University of Tours, and arranged the academic part of my trip. On the left is Karim Chabani, who read a paper about Fun Home called “Double Trajectories” at my thing in Paris last week. And in the pink sweater is Agnes Muller, who read a paper called “Image as Paratext.” It was very pleasant being psychoanalyzed by them.

That’s the back of Ghanima’s head, and her son Alain. And I’m on the right. Ghanima made a Moroccan dish called bastilla, and a flourless chocolate cake, both of which were divine.

I’m really sorry I stopped posting–things just got too crazy at the Angoulême festival to keep it up, and now that I’m home I’m swamped with work. I’ll try to catch up soon. I’ve only had time to skim the most recent comments here–I’m looking very forward to reading that article Maggie Jochild linked to, the one about author blogs. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my relationship with the blog, and wanting to figure it out.

81 Responses to “Pas de tables”

  1. Ellen Orleans says:

    One aspect the article on author blogs discusses is the effect of so many reader comments on a writer.

    “Writers may begin questioning themselves, anticipating criticism, internalizing external pressures — all things that can be positive but that can also lead to creative paralysis.”

    It is hard to imagine that Alison would fall prey to that. There is a reason why DTWOF is so successful and it isn’t that she goes for the happy ending or wackiest combinations of possibilities that many of us call for, but because she has a personal vision and creative calling as a writer and artist.

    Still, I wonder if the sheer amount of feedback intrudes at some level, hurting the art or draining the artist. On the other hand, maybe that’s just the introvert in me, projecting wildly. Maybe some people would be nourished by the conversation. Maybe it balances out hours in solitude.

  2. Fräulein says:

    I love DTWOF and Fun Home. But this blogging business cannot be good for any artist. It’s akin to looking yourself up in Google everyday and feeling good about high numbers and terrible about low ones. The role of praise in an artists life is complicated. Neediness, too. Using time ineffectively, too. Further, living as I do in a country with a formal third-person form, I find the whole Alison, Alison business bizarre. I know that’s how English works, but it makes for a fake level of intimacy.

    Ms. Bechdel, I adore your work.
    All the very best to you!

  3. Steph Mineart says:

    I’ve always been a fan of DTWOF, and I was blown away by Fun Home. I read several author blogs regularly – Jane Espenson’s is especially enlightening, and yours is great, too. It’s fascinating to hear what inspires you creatively, how you approach your craft, and what you real voice is. I hope you do continue to write here – it’s been enriching for me, at least.

  4. mabel says:

    The Salon article Maggie Jochild linked to is very interesting and is related to what Fräulein says about the “fake level of intimacy”. I have always found it bizarre that people offer “Alison” advice about her personal life or offer to show her around a town or something. And I found it even more bizarre when she was called to account for the demise of her relationship – I still don’t understand why she was required to reveal anything about that, even if we have read Fun Home. This happens in real life too. If you share personal information with people they feel compelled to offer advice or an opinion and then demand more information, when maybe all you wanted to do was share.

    Whenever I read things that seem just a bit overly familiar, I assume that the person that wrote it must be a friend in real life. But now I think about it, I think a lot of people must post these things thinking that because “Alison” posts about her working life, she must be open and accessible about everything. Only she clearly doesn’t really post about anything other than her professional life.

  5. Xanthe says:

    I’m not a journalist or a blogger, but I used to write songs and put them online. People listened and commented over the few years I did this, giving lots of support and encouragement, watching me develop from someone tinkering with a home keyboard to later having one of my songs voted Track of the Year on the site I hung out at.

    It was a weird tightrope to handle. On one level, I lapped up the praise and support, on another it made me anxious about bettering myself each time and I started to feel that I was writing more to please the audience than myself. And winning the award killed my creativity for a year, as I struggled between feeling like a complete fraud and wondering how I was going to ever top it.

    Another thing was, that as much as the praise stroked my fragile artistic ego, the fanclub sometimes felt more like a fawnclub, and I started to crave some constructive criticism.

    I walked away eventually. I don’t know how you’re feeling about this blog yet, but if you are struggling, I hope you manage to find a better balance than I did.

  6. panorama says:

    Here is something very general about blogging and its related topics. Sharing experiences can be a good thing for those who like doing it this way but being judgemental and/or normative is quite another.

  7. Colino says:

    Feeling radical today? There:
    “Senada’s “Theory of Obscurity” states that an artist can only produce pure art when the expectations and influences of the outside world are not taken into consideration.”

    More (not much) on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N._Senada

    Looks a bit like a spoof, though.

  8. QKelly says:

    I’m ambivalent about blogs and the whole fan culture. I’ve sometimes been seduced by the “fake intimacy” of fan/celeb relations, while at other times I’ve leaned more toward the idea that we ought to maintain a necessary distance between readers and writers (or any fans and the objects of their admiration.)

    Yet I have to say that I don’t think Alison/Ms. Bechdel/the author was “called to account for the demise of her relationship.” Yes, someone asked a question, and the mere asking of it may (or may not) have been inappropriate. But asking a question is not necessarily the same thing as demanding an accounting. No one — in blogs, interviews, or whatever — is “required” to reveal anything about herself, a point agreed upon by just about everyone (even the original questioner) who commented on the previous “relationship” thread.

    In general, I find commentors on this blog to be pretty respectful of boundaries. (But then again, I’m not Ms. AB; the view may be different from there.)

  9. shadocat says:

    Well , I suppose I am one who could be catagorized as having a “fake level of intimacy”. I also read the Salon article, and have, I confess, tussled with this subject off an on, since I first started writing on this blog.

    Yes, I’ve written posts(like my last one) where I’ve been concerned, worried, or whatever. And believe me, MANY times I’ve wanted to take it all back as soon as I hit the “submit comment” button. But I’m sure in the days before blogs and e-mail, the comments posted here were not much different than any other fan mail (sans the recipes, etc.) If she didn’t have the blog, she would still be getting mail about what she should do in the strip, her book, her personal life, etc. The big difference here is, the rest of us can see it, judge and comment.

    I object to terms such as “fake relationship” or “fake intimacy”. There is a relationship between the writer and her/his fans; no it’s not the same as a personal friend, a relative, a lover or an employee. It’s a “different” relationship, but a relationship just the same. Without her, I would not have the enjoyment that her art and writing have brought me all these years. I may have even been closeted longer. And without us, frankly, she might not be doing this sort of work at all.

    Yes, people have inquired about her relationship, but if she were a mainstream celebrity, we could readily find that info somewhere else, and not inquire on the blog. But since the blog was the main source available (hey it wasn’t even on Wikipedia) people asked there. I think asking for basic information should be okay. Digging for personal details is just rude. And as far as I can remember, everyone was polite.

    I hope Alison continues to host the blog. I enjoy her comments, and I enjoy the conversation with the other fans out there, the debates, and yes, even the recipes. But if she decides to radically change it, or drop it, I have only one request; at least keep posting the strip–Please!

  10. Jen says:

    I just posted this under episode 503 then came and read this thread and realised it fits better over here, especially since I’m responding to one of shadowcat’s queries on the post from the comic book festival. I don’t want to seem like I’m just mixing things up, but I do think this is an important point about the “false intimacy concept:

    “I’d like to second Josiah [on the 503 thread] on the “Alison has nothing to apologize for” front. We are spoiled for content on this blog: early comic strips, photos, trans-atlantic postings, very frequent up-dates…

    Parent or not, and as touching as it is that you worry for the well-being of people that you don’t know outside of your computer, your concern as a regular reader of the blog should be a very low-priority concern for AB (or her staff) especially when traveling over seas.

    I remember feeling resentful as a teenager of my parents demanding me to check-in when out or traveling. Now as an adult I get where they were coming from and would do the same. I think though, that as an adult that same resentfulness would come rushing back if those same demands to Phone Home were placed on me by a virtual acquintence on a public forum of my own creation… But, I’m totally open to the possibility that maybe that’s just me and my $0.02.”

    I just think that somehow a line has been crossed when people start requesting posts even if the request comes from something positive like concern.

    Jen

  11. Jaibe says:

    I actually posted three comments on that Salon article! (Same handle) so if you care about my opinion on all that, it’s there.

    I think AB is a counter example actually to much of the stuff, possibly also because of the high quality of the responses here, and also, due to the intimate level of her comic strip, she already corresponded with her readers before there were blogs (how would I know that… 🙂 ) But for anyone, at the very least, the time sink is an issue.

    This is a *totally* different comic, but one I also enjoy, with a recent episode on information overload…

    http://www.alexcartoon.com/index.cfm?cartoons_id=2904

    By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever posted three articles on one thread in my life before (& I’ve been doing threads since usenet days in 1983!)

  12. shadocat says:

    Jen, I agree–it is low priority. But I don’t feel AB or her staff need to drop everything and reply. They’re all grown people and can reply or not. I’ll get the hint and move on. Trust me.

    Many times, when I read this strip on Planetout, people often complained “Where’s the new strip”, etc. One thing I miss when I blog here, the only thing, I guess, is the freedom to ask what you want, even to challenge the views of this rest of the bloggers. Actually , we are all still free to do that, but I feel it takes a lot more courage to do so. Don’t critcize, or you will be jumped on. Don’t be to personal; you will be jumped on. Don’t flub up and be politically incorrect; you will be jumped on. Don’t end your sentences in prepositions; you will be jumped on. (Okay, that last one was just for me.) I know people who “lurk” on this blog, but won’t write because they say they feel intimidated. I’ve also read other bloggers write this; at first I just thought, “what’s up their butt?”, and moved on. But now I’m beginning to wonder–are we running people away?

    Look, I don’t expect Alison or anybody else to reply. If she does. well great. If not, I’ll get over it. But unless it’s just blatantly offensive, shouldn’t I at least be allowed to ask the question?

  13. shadocat says:

    Jaibe–I loved that strip!hehehe

  14. Jen says:

    Hi shadowcat (and others), I was just looking back to the Angouleme post and I realise now that you just made the one post re: “Where’s Alison” and someone else responded with Phone Home.

    I wouldn’t have said anything (and didn’t on the original post) if a) Alison hadn’t started her 503 post with “Sorry,…” (she’s giving us her art early and apologizing for being gone less than a week?!?) and b) if the topic of blogging and the role of readers and writers as discussed in the Salon article hadn’t been opened up in the first place.

    I think it is an excellent example of the public encroaching on the private. I’m honestly sorry if you felt jumped upon and I shouldn’t have used your handle specifically or criticized you directly. Otherwise, I stand by my post.

    I never read the strip on Planetout so I can’t comment. I can only speculate that you’re right–I’m sure it’s a totally different atmosphere on a “neutral” blog as opposed to one run by the person who’s work is being commented on.

    I think the level of commentary on this blog is high quality stuff and much less vitrolic than other more politically charged or politacally diverse blogs. Maybe I’ve not been reading closely enough but I’ve missed this knee-jerk reaction stuff you mention. I do think it’s interesting that you miss a forum where people were free to challenge then lament how this one is full of people that challenge.

    I’m curious how the “flavour” of the other blog was different and openly challenging… Did people challenge ideas and not people? Did they overlook minor bits of rudeness?

    I don’t mean to single you out, it just seems that we are the only ones posting right now. Anyone else out there feel free to comment. If this line of discussion is worn out just say so.

    Jen

  15. silvio soprani says:

    Even though we post-ers don’t “see” each other and are only communicating through print, I have always felt that there is a great deal of wit and affection happening on this blog. There are a lot of very funny as well as very well informed people here, and the interaction is mostly charming; sometimes goofy, and occasionally a bit obsessively grammar-oriented (but only when the wind blows from the the Great Grammar Planet.)

    I am not terribly brave, and this is the only blog I ever post on. I only do because DTWOF has sustained me through so many years–from time to time it was the only thing I looked forward to from month to month. (a beacon in the midst of ennui…)

    I mostly trust the people who post here because they are NOT hurtful; they don’t gleefully pursue being right; they enjoy the gentle give and take of ideas and where they lead us.

    Alison (it would be hopelessly pretentious to refer to her as Ms. Bechtel–sorry, Fraulein)has made all this possible with her art. And her travels, and the photos she posts…

    I must confess that sometimes I feel like a party-goer who just never went home in terms of this being HER blog and yet all of us kind of drive the discussion, especially when left Home Alone with the Blog.

    I don’t think we should all go home, especially since our gracious host-ess invited us here in the first place, but neither should we be intrusive or ugly or combatative (is that a word?)

    I have been grateful for the community here; it has been refreshing, energizing, stimulating, educational, and downright hilarious sometimes.

    If Alison did decide it intruded too much upon her psyche, I would understand and manage without it. But since it is here, I like interacting with all of you. It has been a most nourishing experience. So thanks.

  16. silvio soprani says:

    AAAAAH! Slip of the key…I meant Ms. Bechdel! “d” not “t”– (sorry!)

  17. QKelly says:

    Shadocat is right, of course — contributors to a blog, celebs and fans alike, *do* have a “relationship,” and most of the time, we all recognize the nature of it. We understand that we don’t “know” Alison (which is how I’ve decided to continue to refer to her, unless officially asked by someone in charge to switch to something else) or each other the way we would if we were personal friends. But all the same, that fact doesn’t mean that we don’t legitimately “know” each other in other ways.

    I agree with Shado that sometimes the tendency here seems to be say that since we are not Alison’s personal friends, we’re out of line to suggest any kind of connection at all — to ask a question, show concern, offer a criticism, use direct address, whatever. But given the interactive nature of blogs, I don’t think it’s possible *not* to make some connections. Alison (or a persona that she creates for the blog) talks to her readers; it seems a bit disingenuous to suggest that it’s inappropriate to talk back. (Within reason, of course. But so far, I haven’t seen anyone on this blog suggest that Alison “owes” us anything in the way of personal disclosure or answers to questions or even the continuance of the strip.)

    Still, the ambivalence I mentioned in my earlier post comes because I have seen cases in which people have *not* seemed to understand the nature of a blogging “relationship” with a famous person. And I’m not just talking about psycho stalkers. Some people *do* presume that because they “know” someone as an artist, or even from a blog, they have some sort of personal claim. But again, I don’t see that here.

    Fascinating thread, this. Epistemology has been on my mind a lot lately.

  18. little gator says:

    No one’s run *me* away. This is not my favorite blog to read, though it comes very close.My fave is blogspot.masthead.com

    But nothing beats this blog for being a delight to comment and read comments in.

    I have felt welcome here since *before* i posted.

    Alison, I’m sure most of us would love to know more about your life. But you don’t owe us, and I’m grateful for waht I get.

    you called me a “compost fiend.” I will treasure that forvever. I’ve been known to celebrate spoiled food “you burned the oatmeal? YAY!!! compost!”

    The only time I feel you *night* owe us anythign is when you post something scary like your skiing event-I do hope if you tell us anything you will tell us enough to know the worry is not needed anymore.

  19. Josiah says:

    I can speak to one difference between the community at PlanetOut and on this blog, and it’s one that has nothing to do with the author’s presence: because I happen to be (more-or-less) straight, I felt a psychological barrier to posting comments at PlanetOut that I never felt here. I read the strip regularly on PlanetOut, but read the comments only occasionally, and I don’t think I ever posted there. (Didn’t they require you to register before posting? That might have been part of the psychological barrier as well.) Anyway, because the strip was hosted on PlanetOut, I felt like I would have been intruding on someone else’s territory if I had commented on the strip there. But here the only criterion is whether you enjoy Alison’s work, so I’ve never felt unwelcome.

    Back on the topic of how an author’s presence in a community affects it: a community in which an author or “celebrity” (for lack of a better term) participates is different from one in which they don’t, but in my experience it’s almost always an improvement — at least, from the point of view of the community. When the author is present, readers tend to be better behaved, not only about the author and her work but also towards each other. Although fora without the creator present can have more free-ranging critical debate at times, I suppose a Parisian salon with the author is more my style than the Wild West saloons which too many unmoderated Internet fora resemble.

  20. freyakat says:

    Hey folks, I can’t find the link to the Salon article. Can someone help me out?

    Thanks…

  21. Pam says:

    freyakat: http://www.salon.com/opinion/kamiya/2007/01/30/writing/

    Alison: William Gibson wrote about blogging’s impact on his writerly “productivity” here: http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_09_01_archive.asp#106337201260041604

    Read ya soon? 🙂

  22. Josiah says:

    The Salon article is here.

  23. shadocat says:

    Jen, thanks for your apology, but I just want to let you know, I don’t really feel like I was “jumped on”. If I’d been wiser, I would’ve talked about that subject on a different post. But since I’m already here, I can think of a recent example–the person asking about Alison’s partner a ways back. I know there have been other times, but it’s late and I’m tired. And I’m sure there have been times I’ve been doing the “jumping”.Maybe this week-end I’ll make that a project–I’m sure I did it a couple of times during the whole “Michigan” thing.

    I’ve generally felt pretty welcome on this blog; and yes, it’s my favorite. The Planetout message board was bupkis compared to this! I surely don’t miss the ads that popped up, or the plugs for people’s bands, etc. I do miss some of the people (whatever happened to paytonc, for instance?) but this is definately better.

    But sometimes I wonder–is it up to us to shield Alison from unpleasant questions? Or should we just let it ride? On the old message board, it was always said she didn’t read it, so people were free to make complete asses of themselves, if they chose to do so. And although I enjoy the feedback from Alison and the occasional interaction with her (and wouldn’t want it to end) I sometimes miss that freedom. Just a little.

    One more thing; to explain why I asked what I did:

    1) Alison had been posting more frequently.

    2) There was the whole snow episode.

    3)On a personal note, people have been dropping around me like flies, so I’m a bit overly freaked out, I’m afraid.

    Okay, clearly I need to stop now–talk about making a complete ass of myself…

  24. Bea says:

    Alison,
    I would like to say that you are great at this. I first read your comic strips in the LC. I wait in anticipation for that magazine just read the strips! I decided to look you up on line one day and found this page. I absolutely love that you are willing to be so interactive with your fans. To me, it just makes you human. I’m looking forward to reading Fun Home. I have begun collecting all of your DTWOF books. I just want to read them all from the very first one to recent.

    The trip to Paris seemed interesting. It was nice that were able to share your experience and observations. I had no idea that the french did not eat at a table. Learn something new everyday!

    Keep up the great work.

  25. judybusy says:

    Regarding the tone of this blog: I’ve peeked at a couple others, and it just seems the tone on them is snide, or people ramble or make unrelated comments. I keep coming back here because it seems people do talk to each other. I think we challenge each other–many’s the time I ponder about what someone’s posted. I admire the heck out of the way some are so darned eloquent.

    To be honest, I don’t really go to the blog to find out more about Alison–I come for the art work and the conversations that ensue. If she never blogged a thing about her life, trips, etc, I don’t think I’d miss it that much. The exception were the sketch diaries; those I really enjoyed, even if they were about some things in her life.

    Instead of being focused on Alison,I am much more sensitive to others’ reactions to what I’ve posted. I think the blog is much more interesting when we have the back-and-forth, which may include some thoughtful responses, some of which include disagreements.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Pam, thanks for letting us know about William Gibson’s site; he is one of my favorite modern authors.

    Shado, you have never made an ass of yourself.

    judybusy, what you said is true, except I want to add that I personally enjoy the posts from Alison’s trips because they connect us to so many of her fellow artists and give me of a glimpse of how a person can maintain a strong, healthy community of artistic alliances with people geographically far away (although philosophically quite close). That inspires me and gives me a perspective on how life is not just who you live with (or don’t live with) and see every day; it is the souls who nourish your vision. (Including one’s fellow bloggers…)

    Must go. Have to go to the real life post office to mail a physical letter. IMAGINE!

  27. AnnaP says:

    I didn`t read the article on subjecet discussed in here but reading these comments makes me analyse my relationship with this blog. Main reason to hang around here is simply it being fun. I have a lack of grown up company living in the middle of nowhere with a toddler and baby so reading something slightly intelligent or somethig that humours me just makes my day. And I learn new thing all the time specially about the grammar of English.

    A while back someone asked AB Some rather personal questions which felt kinda awkward so I decided not to read further. Not that I`m not curious but respecting ones boundaries feels important, even when questions were asked in a polite way indeed.

    I do not know AB personally, I am a fan of her work. Not knowing her is big part of being a fan. Meeting her personally might be a dissappointment as much as figuring out that Santa Claus doesn`t exist (sorry folk, he does not)

    I hope AB is able to concentrate on her own life and things that are meaningfull to her. It is not her job to entertain us, or abologice her abcense when she has work to do.

  28. AnnaP says:

    In a way AB is just as fictional to me as her characters.

  29. Colino says:

    Although I see the “theory of obscurity” I quoted above as a bit of a joke (if an artist isn’t going to be influenced by the outside world, hum… that doesn’t leave them with much room for manoeuvre…) I certainly think artists are entitled to any level of privacy they think suitable. Like everybody else. Sounds reasonable. And A. Bechdel’s art is powerful enough to stand on its own and doesn’t need the artificial support of the excitment or glamour some juicy bits of her personal life could provide. Absolutely. But then again, If we didn’t know about the death of her cat Julia, wouldn’t we have missed a lot of the elegiac feeling contained in the last strip, which makes it so poignant?

  30. little gator says:

    AnnaP, in a way *I* am as fictional to me as anyone’s characters. I wish I could explain it so it sounds more meaningful than a smartass one liner. But *sigh* I dont have the words today.

  31. Olivier says:

    The French do eat at a table, of course; it’s just that this particular meal was taken north african-style.

  32. judybusy says:

    Anonymous, and I agree right back that I’ve learned about a ton of stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise if AB hadn’t posted! I guess I was just trying to emphasize I don’t require the details of her personal life. (Although unlike AnnaP, I didn’t have the self-control to not read about it when it popped up…)As others have said, I just don’t want Alison to think that she owes us the insider peek. Fun Home was already so revealing, that my instinct would be to become more private, if I had written so much about my life as art.

  33. JK says:

    I really want to see AB’s talks at the ComicCon. Does that mean I’d have to buy one of their evil passes??? Gah

  34. Silvio Soprani says:

    judybusy, The “Anonymous” post on Feb 2 at 1:16 was from me! (For some reason, the screen failed to put in my handle automatically and I did not notice until just now.)

    Yes, that would be my instinct too. (to go into hiding.)

    I was always intrigued by the fact that J.D. Salinger became a recluse after Catcher in the Rye, but then, when he was quite middle aged, he accepted a very young woman (whose name I forget) into his life. I suppose everyone needs at least one person to want to know about them, or else one would have to rely totally on one’s own love of self, which I find does need replenishing from time to time.

  35. bean says:

    i’ve often thought it would be cool for us all to migrate to an Alison Bechdel/DTWO4 Fan Blog that was independent of Alison Bechdel’s personal blog. I too have felt strange about some of the questions people have put to her and also about the fact that she (sometimes)answers them. (and sometimes doesn’t).

    A fan blog in which Alison Bechdel didn’t participate, or didn’t all the time, would allow folks to discuss whatever we want (including AB’s work) without wondering if we are somehow intruding on her personal life or artistic integrity. And it would spare some of us from dealing with the whole naseous fawning thing.

    I also recognize that, beyond a mutual appreciation of Alison Bechdel’s work, the folks on this list seem very much to value each other’s company. That’s really cool. And, although I never read the PlanetOut blog, I’m sure this one is far more interesting. So I would hate to lose the strange little community that has been built around this blog. I would also hate to lose the glimpses into AB’s life and work we’ve been priviledge to through this blog. It seems that seperating/splitting the two functions (a blog for her, a blog for us) is a good solution.

    on the other hand…

    this *IS* a kind of interesting and unique social experiment. I would never want it to come at AB’s expense, but she initiated it, and, I don’t know, maybe she doesn’t mind holding court with us all. just because i think it’s not appropriate for people to ask questions about her personal life doesn’t necessarily mean she does. i think…

  36. shadocat says:

    I’m about to break one of Molly Ivins’ rules: forgive me Molly!

    It’s the first rule about holes; when you find you’re in one, stop digging. But yet, like a puppy I used to have, I just can’t help myself:

    1)All I asked for was for someone to tell me if she was okay. NOT “Where is she? What’s she doing? Who’s she doing it with? Can I join in? Nothing like that. All I wanted to know was if she was still alive and reasonably healthy. That is ALL. I thought I tried to ask this in the most non-intrusive way I could. Apparrently I was wrong.

    2)Why is it wrong to ask a question like this, but perfectly acceptable to try to influence the strip by writing things such as,”Clarice and Toni should break up, stay together, be suburban swingers, etc? Or Mo should dump Sydney, bring back Jezanna, the bookstore, the Cafe Topaz?
    could we see Naomi, for us Jewish bi-sexuals? What about a middle-aged woman just coming out, who also has hypogammaglobulinanemia and a gimpy leg? Can ya work that one in? (And yes,I am one of the worst offenders of the above “crime”, I willingly admit it?)

    Isn’t it far more damaging to try to influence the art, than to ask, “Do you still have a partner?, or “Are you okay? And what about the people who flirt, or comment about the body of the artist vs the body of her work? Why do these comments go by, with virtually no challenges? Seems to me these comments are far more personal, but then that’s just my opinion.

    I am so sorry William Gibson decided to stop writing his blog but I can understand how such a thing could get in the way of one’s work. I hope Alison does not close down her blog or drastically modify it in any way, just because of one stupid question I asked. Alison, if it helps, I promise I’ll just keep my comments on this blog to the weather and everyone’s health (except of course, your own). No reason to make the rest suffer because I went a little too far.

  37. Maggie Jochild says:

    Shadocat, you should take a chill pill, sweetie. It’s not about you this time. I say that with kindness and affection.

    And, disentangling your feelings of maybe having made a mistake (which is no biggie, if you did) from the other stuff in your post, you raise some darned good questions.

    I disagree with Bean that changing the blog to an “impersonal” one, i.e., not under Alison’s aegis, would get rid of the nauseous fawning behavior. Some people relate to artists and celebrities as entities who deserve worship, adulation, or some sort of attitude that they are better than the rest of us. That’s going to happen no matter what. And if that’s how you relate to art, go for it. There’s room for all kinds of voices here, and I’m not interested in weeding anything out — when my buttons get pushed, they are still my buttons.

    This is not to say that oppressive language and meanness should be allowed and welcomed — but that’s not what we’re talking about, is it?

    I have assumed that when people react to the strip and express strong opinions about what they would like to see happen in it, they are not actually thinking they can influence the art. I hope they are not deluded that way. Yes, certainly, it must have some effect on the writer to hear her characters and ideas discussed, but it’s not going to persuade her to, for instance, ditch that nasty Sydney and find someone who can actually help Mo grow. If Alison is having a hard time hearing certain things, then I’m pretty sure she will stop listening — she’s in charge of her art, and we have ample proof of that.

    As I see it, there are several different functions being performed by this blog. One is to see Alison’s work in a timely manner, and to get a chance to communicate with EACH OTHER about it. (NOT her.) Another is to see what Alison is doing in the world, to get a real-time glimpse of an artist’s life. And to discuss it with each other. In the course of this, we’ve developed relationships (real ones, not fake ones, but not “personal” ones, either) with each other.

    But, I would argue, we are not having personal relationships with Alison, either. She only reads this once every few days — thank god, I’d much rather she be drawing and thinking than blogging. She is not obliged to give us information about anything at all in her life, however much she may have done it in the past — it’s a gift, freely given, and no strings attached. If we worry about her, well, bring it here to us bloggies and talk to us about it, but it’s not her responsibility to answer us. So — it wasn’t wrong of you to ask, Shadocat, or to post it here. And if one of us had the answer (which is possible), we could give it to you. But I’d rather Alison never feel like SHE has to answer any of our questions. Ever. If she wants to, great. But otherwise she’s the elusive intellectual butch in the sky who really is giving us everything we need by sharing her art with us. That’s how I see it.

    Well, okay, not everything we need, but those needs have to be met elsewhere.

    So, I’m hoping Alison sorts out what kinds of input are useful to her, what kinds aren’t, and then makes choices based on that what to let in. Like I assume she’s always done, to be the successful artist she is. And if she doesn’t want to answer our questions, or eat our cake, or let us flirt with her — don’t.

    Lastly, as a writer who often does loot my autobiography for material but often does not — you cannot assume ANYTHING about Alison based on her strip. Conflating the living human with any character or story arc is a hit or miss proposition, mostly miss. I mean, Robert Frost was a sonuvabitch to his family, but I still cry when I read his poetry. And being a cultural genre artist, as Alison is, doesn’t really change her independence from her art. Like Sweet Honey wrote in their song about “your children are not your children”, her art may come from her but it is not OF her. Or, as Aaron Sorkin wrote, Let Bartlet be Bartlet. And let’s stay out of her way. Write to each other, we’re a groovy, smart, caring, and multitalented bunch here, from all over the world. What could be better?

  38. Bea says:

    I think I started something I did not wish to start. This is my first time writing on the blog, and though I know she probably doesn’t read all of these, if she has time to read any, i just wanted to express my admiration.

    Reading her blogs are interesting, and it’s nice of her to share that with us .

    However, I too was growing attracted to how the conversations go – it’s like a chat. Which is why I grew the cahunas to write LOL.

    I would like to join in on the blogs from time to time. But I got to reading what some of you wrote after my blog, and I thought – maybe I should clarify.

  39. Maggie Jochild says:

    And, ditto Silvo to Shado — you have NEVER made an ass of yourself. Think of yourself as Doris Day in The Glass-Bottomed Boat, trying to make that fancy cake in the kitchen of the future!

    Bea — Welcome!

  40. Xanthe says:

    I’ve felt pretty invisible on this blog, but one last comment. I hear where shadocat is coming from. Some of the insights about the strips are really interesting and I’ve wanted to contribute. But some of the other posts, the flirting, the fawning, the pressure to not put a foot wrong and be the perfect fan, makes this blog, for me, a pretty unsafe place to speak my mind. But ultimately (and maybe this is just a Brit thing), deep down it just feels somehow rude to talk about someone or try to second-guess them within their earshot.

    I’ve been a fan of DTWO4 for 19 years and always will be but I think I’ll leave the congregation and make the return to private worship.

  41. Pam I says:

    Bean et al: There’s the other dtwof blog over at
    http://community.livejournal.com/dykes2watchout4/
    which is more fan-worship type i think – i dont look often as it doesnt have recipes.

  42. Silvio Soprani says:

    Pam I,
    Ha! No recipes, indeed! Well noted!

    Bean and Xanthe, I’d be sorry if either of you migrated away. But I have to join you in saying that from time to time I need a breather from some of the intensivty of the scrutiny of the DTWOF characters,etc. (not that there is anything wrong with it; I just can’t gaze upon it too much; my brain glazes over;) and so I take a one-day vacation from reading the blog, just to regain my balance. but when I do that,I hate missing all the various interesting stuff that people share that is on so unpredictable and delightful, so then I have to exert a power surge to catch up. (Not counting traveling back to the various previous threads, just in case I missed something there.)

    I don’t think I would like having a separate blog unless this one no longer accepted our comments, because I am sure I would not have the time/energy/eyesight to surveil TWO blogs a day!

    Shado, I repeat, you are good, good,and good. Be hugged.

    Maggie, as usual, just the right amount of measured, relevant wisdom.

  43. cybercita says:

    hi maggie,

    isn’t that song “your children are not your children” an extended quote from khalil gibran’s book the prophet?

  44. PixieLauren says:

    (Note: I have posted here as “Lauren” before, but there are a couple other Laurens who have posted, so I am switching to one of my other nicknames.)

    I have often wished that Alison’s site had a “forum”, you know, a discussion “bulletin board” with threaded topics and responses. Then I wouldn’t always be hunting around in the comments like this. And then us “fans” would have a place to talk about on-topic or off-topic things without feeling like we were encroaching on Alison’s personal space.

    When I comment on a blog entry, as I am doing now, I feel I am writing “to” Alison, when I’d sorta rather leave Alison alone to her privacy. I’d rather write “to” the other fans here.

    If Alison had a forum, it would be separate from her writings, and she could choose to read it or not.

    I read the Salon article with great interest. Long ago I had an ‘online journal’ (This was in the days before the word “blog” was invented — Online journals were the precursor to that). It was a total disaster all the way ’round. (Commentors flamed me for my personal choices. And then my ex-husband used my postings against me in a bitter divorce/custody battle. Fun!)

    Anyway, the Salon article was magnificent. Three days later, I am still thinking about it.

    Alison, if you read this, for what it’s worth, I think you are navigating these uncertain waters beautifully. Bravo.

  45. Sophie says:

    Yes, Bravo indeed.

    My understanding is that Alison is taking our comments with the grain of salt they deserve. I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about posting anything well-meant.

    As I see it, the “blog problem”, from the creative point of view, seems to be that whatever energy one expends on blogging, is diverted from one’s main creative pursuit.

    Congratulations Alison, for only blogging when you feel like it. You don’t owe us anything.

  46. Jana C.H. says:

    Speaking of blogs…

    I was wandering around the internet looking for stuff about Russian Blue cats (I miss my Russkies!) and came across a connection to a site for automatic scoop-free litter boxes. And it had its own blog! I checked the archives for January and December, but there were no messages of any sort.

    So if AB ever boots us out, we can all move to the litter box blog and discuss the Marxist-Leninist significance of clumping versus flushable litter.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith Jean Cocteau: I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.

  47. Jana C.H. says:

    P.S. Here’s the litter box site: http://www.scoopfree.com/?gclid=CLWfru-Vk4oCFTIeGAodMwLPng

    Yes, I ordered one. Expensive as hell, but the only room in my condo with space for a litter box is my studio! It will be much more usable without the smell and the grit on the floor. Maybe I’ll get more work done (ha!)

  48. Maggie Jochild says:

    Cybercita, you’re right about the source of those Sweet Honey lyrics, I’d forgotten that. And it’s important to be pointed out these days, when all things Arab are being attacked, ridiculed, minimized… Thanks.

    On quite another note (and here’s where threading would just not be practical): Yesterday the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry — whom Molly Ivins referred to as “The Haircut”, which sums him up — issued an executive order mandating vaccination against the HPV virus for every sixth grade girl in Texas. We now become the first state in the country to require this vaccination. By doing it as an executive order, he bypassed all the wingnuts and Babtists who would have destroyed any legislation proposed along these lines; it’s a done deal. I just don’t quite know how to believe this piece of good news has really happened. And from him, of all people. I found myself longing to hear what Molly would have had to say about it. I mean, there’s the obvious “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day” but her observation would have had a Piney Woods punch and Texian running dog Democrat twist to it, y’know?

  49. Deena in OR says:

    Jana…as long as it doesn’t scare the cat(s). Mine wont use one.

    And on a different note…

    I’ve been asking myself why I’ve become a frequent visitor to this blog. What brings me here?

    There’s the obvious. I’m an AB and DTWOF fan…have been since I started reading the strip in the Twin Cities local gay weekly in the late eighties. (Hey, Alison…if you read this one, a note. I worked with a dyke named Mo back then…she wore striped tees, big round horn rims, had short hair and was about ‘our’ age.)
    Back when I thought I was straight, and back before I realized that I had any other reason to read it 🙂

    I lost touch with the strip when (ex)hubby and I moved to Oregon. I read it when I could, but didn’t have ready access, and my local library has chosen to cull these comics from their collection. When I came out to myself, the strip was one of the first things I sought out. (Thank the Goddess for Google

    But there are, one assumes, plenty of AB fans who presumably have Web access and don’t hang out here. What draws me?

    It’s the community! I love the diversity of opinion and intellectual stimulation on this blog. My housemate, bless him, doesn’t enjoy intellectual sparring and verbal byplay for its own sake. I continually rub up against new ideas, new authors, and new like-minded people here.

    I’ve been on the Internet for a while now. While there will be trolls anywhere, Alison and the wondrous Katie have done an amazing job of managing the tone. Not to mention our own collective self-policing.

    I try not to fawn, and I believe that most of us do likewise. Alison is a capable functioning adult and is in charge of her own level of interaction with the blog. I wouldn’t presume to tell her what to do in that regard 🙂

    Another thought that just occured as I wrote that last paragraph. Fun Home and, to an extent, the strip, have been and are emotionally intimate works. Alison has made herself vulnerable to us by her work. I participate in her creation by reading and letting it resonate in me. I can offer feedback, reactions, and even emotional vulnerability in return, in gratitude for the gift she shares. She (you, Alison… am I blogging to you, or to the entire community???) can chose her level of intimacy with us here. I can hope that perhaps she, like the rest of us, draws sustenace from our collective interactions.

    The other thought…I would imagine that reading the blogs can be a bit like reading reviews of your own work. Take what’s valuable, leave the rest.

    Peace to you all.

  50. Deena in OR says:

    Ummm….didn’t mean to cut off conversation entirely.

  51. meg says:

    no worries, Deena – give it a few more hours, and I’m sure there’ll be more posts. I’ve got my own thoughts on all of this, but haven’t quite figured them all out yet.

  52. mlk says:

    Shadocat, I’m jumping down from a comment you made awhile back about making an ass of yourself when explaining your concern for Alison’s (apparent) absence.

    maybe you didn’t really feel that you were making an ass of yourself . . . but I want to say –in case you did — that the context you provided makes a good deal of sense. and that I appreciate your providing it.

    it seemed a bit odd to me that you were concerned about Alison’s whereabouts (in part, I must admit, because I’ve had things on my mind that have kept me off the blog, much less from worrying about Alison’s wellbeing) and that the concern you expressed suddenly made sense when you explained that you’re somewhat freaked because of events in our own life. given who we are and our life circumstances at different times, what makes sense to you may not make sense to others. perhaps because I *didn’t* ahre it, I appreciate having a better understanding of your concern.

    I don’t feel any need to know the details of who and what has freaked you, any more than I feel a need to explain what has kept me from checking the blog less frequently — even obsessively — than I have at other times.

    I say this to point out that we all keep things in our lives private on the blog. this is part of what keeps the comments on track (so to speak). and I *think* this has some bearing on the whole blogging discussion — at least I hope so! there is, of course, lots of room for different opinions here.

    I’ve commented to people in my off line life how I feel close to Alison — and have shared some personal things w/her and everyone else on the blog — and at the same time realize that we really know very little about each other. I keep wanting to think of Alison as a friend, because both she and the blog have been important in the still-relatively-recent development of my identity as a bi woman, because I’ve actually met and spoken with her (I *think* Alison remembers who I am, and connects my posts with my face and voice). and I’m still unsure enough of myself, especially in the GLBT community, that I want to be positively regarded. I’m tempted to say more about that but will restrain myself.

    anyway, much as I’d like to claim Alison as a friend I recognize that’s simply not possible. as far as I can tell, friendships aren’t (generally) established thru a blog, and Alison doesn’t have enough hours in the days to develop friendships with even the most fascinating posters here. still, I’m grateful for the connections with Alison and her fans.

    they remind me, in a way, of the connections that I have with some of the people in my spiritual community. those connections are made and maintained in a particular environment and, because of logistical difficulties, aren’t nurtured outside of that environment. their tone falls somewhere between acquaintanceship and friendship (for me at least). they’re tenuous, but surprisingly sustaining.

  53. mlk says:

    one last thought about our connections here on the blog:

    despite the familiarity in the way that we sometimes address Alison and each other, I believe that at some level we know that friendly =/= (does not equal) friendship. we may not have a word for this online-relationship-thing, but it’s been pretty well described by the people posting here and I don’t know that there’s too much danger of our mistaking it for something that it isn’t. at least I hope so! I guess there’s always the possibility of error and misunderstanding.

  54. Maggie Jochild says:

    I adore this conversation, the way it pushes me to consider this and that. The way we meet each other with grace and humor, even as we talk about difficult things.

    Jana, I laughed out loud at the litter blog notion. And — my cat, also, would never go for an automated receptacle. She’s completely freaked out by the DVD player, is sure it’s a monstrous presence in the bedroom and has twice now tried to destroy it.

    Finally, re Rick Perry’s surprising decision to actually protect 11 year-old girls from future cancer: I mentioned it to my godson’s savvy father this evening as I babysat him so they could go out to Carnaval, and he enlightened me. Perry is in the pockets of Merck. Well, for once lobbyist money will lead to something good. But I still wish I could hear Molly slice and dice it. Like I heard somebody else say, Jim Hightower, take yr vitamins!

  55. Sofi says:

    Nom d’un chien,the girl in the pink sweater is an ex girl friend. It feels like being in an L Word chart episode. I’m a great fan of you and if I remember well I introduced that girl to DTWOF 10 years ago!

  56. Pam I says:

    Jana et al: I watched the catlitter video and my only thought is that the automatic box would be adding more indigestible plastic to landfill. Cat shit may be unpleasant to handle (+ dangerous worms-wise) but if you scoop it out every day it’s bearable. A sealed plastic box full of unknown crystals, dumped to be buried or burnt – must be worse than clay or paper granules.

    I have this foolish notion that high level board meetings are being called for every organisation across the world to see what they can all do, desperately urgently, to cut their own CO2 output. If not, why not? It has to come down to each of us as individuals and in workplaces doing everything possible – it’s already too late. I’ll probably not live long enough but why isn’t every youth rising up and demanding a futire? They should be terrified.

    Sorry to be doomy – it’s a lovely sunny day ….

  57. Andrew B says:

    I want to add my voice to the general chorus of “no need to apologize”. What I look for on this blog is a new episode of dtwof every couple of weeks, more or less. Everything else is icing. (Should I say, everything else is orange glaze?)

  58. --MC says:

    Uh oh, I dreamed about the blog. It was even orange on the borders like it is in real life! Only it had the feature where each poster had an icon to represent themselves: women in evening gowns sitting at cabaret tables like in a club. I was slightly cranky because my icon did not look like me at all, and I couldn’t figure out how to change it..

  59. LM says:

    Kind of quiet on the old blog. I guess everybody’s getting ready for the big ga…oops!

  60. little gator says:

    Is there a game or something?

    Nobody at my house cares. The only pro sport we notice is the Boston Marathon where we(me, Mr Gator, my mom, my friend A, and whoever else we can get) proudly operate an Unoffical water station since the late 1980s. Just past Natick Center in front of St Patrick’s rectory, on the runners’ left.

    We used to bring a mini-tv but dont bother any more. We’re havign too much fun to care much who wins.

    If you don’t get enough lustful looks and abject gratitude, try giving water to dehydrated runners. I’m amazed at how many slow down to thank me. The ones who grab and run are fine too-Im glad to help them and dont want to cost them time off their record.

    Look for Mr Gator if you go-a tall bearded man in a bright yellow hat.

    All winter i dream of the day the warm days really arrive for me-usually get my first sunburn and a sore throat from happy screaming.

    Third Monday in April.

  61. Meghan says:

    Pam I- The youth are not rising up because they’ve been raised on television. Their attention spans are only long enough to get them to the next commercial break. Therefore “future” is defined in terms of days, weeks, and months instead of years, decades, or centuries. Most of them don’t understand how rising sea levels could affect their lives and, consequently, don’t care. In general, they have no sense of responsibility to their planet or their fellow humans.

    Before anyone jumps on me: I am a youth (I’m in my early 20’s), and I know that some young people are environmentally conscious. I just feel like we’re in the minority.

  62. Jana C.H. says:

    Much as I dislike TV (I stopped watching sometime in the mid-80s), I can’t see the argument that today’s kids are apathetic because they were raised on television and have short attention spans. I hear that a lot, but I don’t think the argument holds water.

    The first generation of kids to be raised on television was us Baby Boomers, and we were notorious as youthful political activists. Some of us still are. Growing up on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Gilligan’s Island– interrupted every fifteen minutes for commercials– didn’t make us careless about the future. Why should the equivalent in today’s programming and commercials do it to modern kids?

    If anything it was the draft and the Pill that stirred up my generation. Young people today have no draft threatening them (yet!), and they take birth control for granted (which they shouldn’t). Wait til they start getting shipped to Iran; then they’ll be marching in the streets– if it’s not too late.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    The conductor changes, the music remains the same. –Old Italian Political Saying

  63. Pam I says:

    These kids are going to be furious with us. Rightly so. We blew it. 22nd-century psychoanalysts (both of them) will have a field day.

    Don’t give up on TV, there are dozens of programmes on at the moment about the demise of polar bears and too-early hatchings. Not enough about the amazon forests burning down because of meat-eaters…

  64. anon-eponymous says:

    The last time the entire world was living in a sustainable fashion was the Dark Ages. The human race hopped on the path to its own destruction a lot earlier than most people like to think. The whole thing really got accelerated in the 18th century, (the advances in mathematics that underlie the implementation of all digital electronics, institutionalized global slave trade, etc.). Nothing lasts forever, particularly the only attempt we will ever know about to form a civilized society from a bunch of apes. Much of this was brought about by the things we like to praise in people, e.g., curiosity, intelligence, imagination, the wish to provide for one’s offspring, the wish to create beautiful (or at least interesting) things, etc.

  65. AnnaP says:

    My mother claims that people do not understand time the same way, they use to because of the digital watches. In an old fashion watch you can see entire 24 hours sometimes even a calender(=full year) but in digital watch the only existing moment is now.

    A friend of mine mentioned the other day that the biggest factor speedind up the global warming today is that there is not enough ice(=white surface) in the northern part of the planet reflecting the radiation of the sun back to the space.
    She also said that since there are big cities in the world that are just as big as the areas covered with ice use to be, the roofs in such places could simply be painted white like snow or ice and that would slow down the warming.

    Who knows…

  66. Duncan says:

    Jana, I agree with you completely: I too grew up on TV (I’m 56), but my generation was the one that fought racism, sexism, and war. (TV was often blamed for activism, not just quietism: we saw all those long-haired dirty Reds on TV, so monkey-see, monkey-do, we had to go out and stab LBJ / Nixon / Our Boys in Vietnam in the back too.)

    What TV might explain, a little, is Meghan’s feeling that ‘environmentally conscious’ youth are in the minority. Well, first, political activists have *always* been a minority, in the 60s too. One good beginning would be to get rid of the stereotype / fantasy that back in the 60s, EVERYBODY marched in the streets, offed the pigs, turned on, tuned in, dropped out. It’s not true. I often encounter a version of this from younger queerfolk, who say that their generation isn’t “all” activists like mine was. Ahem: those of us who did anything were a small minority, often vilified and mocked by other queers who just couldn’t see why we had to advertize ourselves / antagonize straight people, etc. I’m not sure they get these notions from the Liberal Media, but it could be.

    And now, if you let the Liberal Media be your only source of information about the world, you’ll still get a distorted sense of the way things are. Use alternative media, at least as a supplement to USA Today, the New York Times, and CNN. Don’t trust the Liberal Media. (I say “Liberal” because the big corporate media, except for Fox News, *are* the leftward limit of respectable opinion in the US. Anything beyond that is from Neptune, as Jeff Greenfield said of Chomsky — crazy, tinhat conspiracy theories that no decent American needs to take seriously.) They will paint environmental and other activists as a few crazies with wild (but unspecified) beliefs and theories. The aim, often conscious, is to isolate you, make you think you’re a lone weirdo and no one else thinks as you do.

  67. judybusy says:

    More about the HPV vaccine: On Saturday, I went to my neighbor’s to borrow a cup of sugar (really!) and naturally got to talking about various things. (I ahve the coolest neighbors.) She brought up the whole HPV business. Now, HER take was one of outrage because she didn’t think the vaccine had been sufficiently tested for safety. In our local feminist press, the concern was more that the right wing would prevent its use because it would of course encourage sex. The fact that it would prevent a terrible cancer, if not of course, a factor in their thinking. My first question for my neighbor was to ask if the pharmaceutical company had donated to the guv of TX, which, as Maggie pointed out, Merck had.

    So, after I read Maggie’s comments here, I googled it all, and I couldn’t really find a lot of safety concerns. But then again, maybe it will come out later, a la Vioxx and it will have to be withdrawn.

    As an aside, you know what’s sad? One of the websites I checked was the CDC’s, (oh, that’s the Center for Disease Control) but I couldn’t help but wonder if I could really trust it, due to the incredible political pressure this administration has put on regulatory agencies. That, along with my instinct to follow the campaign money further fuels my disgust with the Shrub Cabal! Blech!

  68. Jana C.H. says:

    Duncan– I argued a lot in high school history classes (I just about fell over when a fellow-student claimed she didn’t care about equal pay for women because she was going to get married), but I didn’t do any demonstrating in the Sixties. For one thing, nobody marched in the streets in Port Angeles, Washington. I never went to rock concerts, either: getting to Seattle involved a 90-minute drive plus toll bridge and ferry.

    Also, I was just a bit too young. My older brother began at the University of Washington in 1970, and he remembers a demonstration that shut down I-5 (though I don’t think he participated). At that point I still had two more years in Port Angeles. I was unhappy about it at the time because I was “missing everything”.

    So what happened thirty years later when I had a chance to be a part of the WTO demonstrations in Seattle? On the first full day of the demonstrations I was in bed, getting over a horrible migraine. Then when the news came out about the violence, little me with the brittle bones decided to stay away. There was a rally at the Pike Place Market that I attended during my lunch hour from work; it was less than a block away. Talk about heavy committment!

    Well, I don’t march in the streets these days, but I AM active in my local Democratic party, which is something I never did until I hit my 40s. We do what we can.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: Every boy and every gal / who’s born into the world alive, / is either a little liberAL / or else a little conservaTIVE.

  69. Maggie Jochild says:

    Just want to second Duncan’s comment about the perception of activists being a large proportion of the population — during the 1970s, a fairly well-determined statistic that I used as a reality check is that only 5-7% of the lesbian population were what we would have called “political dykes”, i.e., activists. I recently read on a trans website that, similarly, their estimate is that maybe 7% of the “queer” population (not sure what their definers were) identifies as trans. So what gets the press, both within our communities and outside it, is not necessarily reflective of what the majority believes. In much the same way that the definition of “conservative” was hijacked by a percentage of religious zealots who were and are not more than, at most, 30% of the population ever.

    But, as a member of that 1970s 5% — we really got a fuck of a lot done in a few years. And I think that kind of change will come again, it does cycle through every few generations. Maybe I’ll live long enough to see what the next incarnation looks like — what it will mean when an critical mass throws out ALL the assumed truths and is willing to start from scratch. It seems to take more than simple injustice to make that occur.

    I try not to take undue credit for my generation’s vision (because we didn’t create the circumstances, we just used them well) and to not be fatalistic about other generation’s choices. I try.

    And AnnaP, I love your mother’s theory. I, too, hold onto analog. There really is a concrete, aesthetic difference between, say, film and video, and I think iy hits our brains differently.

  70. Feminista says:

    Maggie–I continue to enjoy your comments.

    Regarding boomers and activism: it’s true we weren’t in the majority,but we had a lot of sympathizers among our peers. A national survey of college students published in 1970 found over two-thirds considered ourselves “liberal,very liberal,or radical.” Some of our peers were active briefly,then resumed conventional middle class lives. On the other hand,I’ve met more than a few boomers who’re “waking up” and resuming activism after a long hiatus.

    And I know that all boomers didn’t go to college,but counter-cultural,peace and justice,and feminist ideals affected working class and poor youth as well. Youth of color unable to avoid the draft certainly knew the real enemy was,and were among the first servicepeople in Viet Nam to openly resist their superiors and wear peace symbols. I’ve seen film footage of mostly Black combat units where the men wore Afros as expressions of Black pride,forcing the Army to change its haricut regulations. Some Latinos were radicalized as well as they heard about Brown Power on the east and west coasts.

    Though of course there were those who defied categorization, such as young workingmen who grew their hair long,smoked dope,and were anti-authoritarian,but clung to racist,sexist and homophobic beliefs.

    And of course their were the frat boys and Young Repubs,like W and his advisors,who bided their time until they could assume power and exercise their privilege.

  71. Feminista says:

    oops–last paragraph should “there were the frat boys..”

  72. Anne in K-town says:

    Regarding the HPV vaccine –

    This is a tremendous gain for women. Can you imagine NEVER going through a Pap smear again? So many women put off this part of their health care because they are embarrassed, uncomfortable, or simply don’t have insurance. But, with a good vaccine most invasive cervical cancer will be prevented, as will most of the screening (Pap smears) and follow up of abnormal Paps (colposcopy, conization, etc.). Gay men could get vaccinated since they are at risk for HPV related rectal cancers (especially when HIV +. Some centers even do “anal Pap smears” for HIV + men, though there aren’t broadly accepted recommendations). The more young women who never endure a pelvic exenteration for invasive cervical cancer the better.

  73. kate mckinnon says:

    I like it when people that I am interested in decide to keep digital logs, diaries, or journals like this. But my purpose in coming here is to see what Alison is doing, and what Alison has to say. I check the comments mostly to see if AB has added anything to the discussion.

    As a reader, I often wish that commenters would limit themselves when they post on other people’s blogs. Pagelong impressions and essays are highly suitable for one’s own journal, but on another’s….well, it’s a judgment call.

  74. anon-eponymous says:

    Like kate I come here for the A.B. stuff not the comments. But the comments are like a TV that’s on in the room where you’re trying to read. It flickers at the edge of your vision and hearing and you’re unable to fully ignore it. Finally you break down and you actually engage with it. As far as I can tell, I’m worse off because I have posted to the blog and nobody else is better off because of my comments.

    I would welcome any sort of limits set to the number or size of comments.

  75. little gator says:

    I enjoy longish comment, both writing and reading them. The rare uninteresting comments easy to skip.

    I’ll try to do less of it if it’s btohersome. I just like it so much myself that I didn’t think.

  76. Jen says:

    Wow, go away for a week and these conversations just explode. As usual, the topic has changed from the beginning looped around and back to something similar. I’d bet we’d get as many different opinions on limits to number/size of comments as there are posters on this blog. It’s not really enforcible so unless someone really wants to step up and facilitate the discussion to keep it focused I think people should just skim for the topics they’re interested in and ignore the rest.
    $0.02

  77. anon-eponymous says:

    The number and size of comments is absolutely enforceable. (I know this because as part of my work I have written thousands and thousands of lines of mostly correct code.) Zero for both would be by far the simplest limit to implement. Many other sorts of limits wouldn’t be too difficult.

    I concur with bean. There’s nothing wrong with the comments per se, I just wish they would migrate to a different venue.

  78. Jen says:

    Oh right. I was stuck on the human-interactive solutions

  79. Fräulein says:

    I just looked up “pelvic exenteration” thanks to Anne-in-K-Town. What a thing to go through. I’m glad I know now. May the HPV vaccine help in future.

  80. mlk says:

    anon-eponymous, several posters have said that they benefit from others’ comments. some, myself included, enjoy the comments as much as Alison’s postings.

    people don’t necessarily respond to others’ comments (unlike Shadocat, I’ve felt more that my comments are ignored than jumped on. makes me feel inferior but that’s just me) but that doesn’t mean that nobody is better off because of what’s been written by readers.