milking in brooklyn

June 14th, 2008 | Uncategorized


Hey, sorry I disappeared. I’ve had rather a whirlwind week. I’m posting this from JFK airport on my way home after spending yesterday and today in NYC.

First, I got this exciting commission from Entertainment Weekly to do a 4-page piece for the book section of their upcoming 1000th issue. I got all amped up–they gave me like three weeks, and it had to be in full color. So I spent the earlier part of this week in Photoshop hell. But here’s a sneak preview.

index 2 FINAL

Then I flew down to the city to be in a movie that Powell’s Books is doing about the upcoming anthology State By State, to which I contributed a graphic essay on Vermont. They had a whole bunch of the authors who’d done pieces for the book descend on an American Legion Hall in Harlem, where they had a film crew set up. They gave us food and drink, then shot footage of everyone reading from their work, or being interviewed about it. It’s kind of hard to explain…the movie will be a promotional thing for the book. But the cool part was meeting all the fancy authors. Look, here’s Anthony Bourdain talking to Susan Choi, holding the baby, and Sean Wilsey, one of the editors.

tony, sean

The awesome New Yorker writer Susan Orlean (The Orchid Thief) came up to me and told me she loved my book Fun Home. This was very thrilling but I felt bad because I never actually read The Orchid Thief, I only saw the brilliant movie Adaptation, in which Susan is played by Meryl Streep. So I kept my mouth shut. Fortunately I was accompanied to this heady affair by our blog pal June Thomas, who had the wherewithal to say something intelligent to Susan about her book The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup.

State by State is based on the American Guide series of travel books put out by the Works Progress Administration during the 1930’s. I’ll explain more about this later, since I’m at the airport right now and kind of rushed. But here I am drawing the WPA logo for the series on a big canvas so all the authors could sign it. I was very pleased to have an art-related task at this intimidating event. I got to just sit in the corner coloring.

wpa log

Okay…I know this is a little incoherent, but I have to go catch my plane.


JFK’s all closed down due to wild thunderstorms. So everyone’s sitting around trying to stay calm. Which gives me a chance to add the sneak preview I mentioned. Uh…no, actually, for some reason the funky airport wifi isn’t letting me.
Oh, but also, here’s a cool thing. When I was having dessert last night at a fancy chocolate place in Park Slope, some anonymous person sent me over a chocolate teddy bear shaped lollipop. The waiter brought it to me, kind of embarassed, and whoever it was had gone by then. Who was it? Someone from the blog? It was very sweet. So was the chocolate.

Marissa, no, I wasn’t walking down 7th avenue in a suit yesterday at 11:something. Must have been my body double.

Okay. I have to go see if my plane is leaving tonight or not. Last I checked, the ground crew had changed the departure time to read “X-XX.” They found this hilarious, and laughed for about five minutes about it.

65 Responses to “milking in brooklyn”

  1. Jesse says:

    “So I spent the earlier part of this week in Photoshop hell. But hereÔÇÖs a sneak preview.” So…was there supposed to be a link there? I want to get a look at the new stuff!

  2. Ian says:

    Give the woman a break Jesse! She (the cat’s mother lol) wrote this at the airport! Not that I don’t want to see it as well … ­čśë

    Whew! Sounds like a busy, busy, busy week. It’s so exciting when someone really cool says they like your work. I blog about track & field and I had an athlete from the national team email me to say they liked what I did. At first I didn’t believe it was them and then when reality hit, all the walking on cloud 9 triggered a panic attack! *smacks forehead* I admire you for staying cool in the face of fire like that.

  3. marissa says:

    I think I spotted you (or one of your clones) walking down 7th Ave at around 11:45am on Friday! Were you wearing a suit?

  4. well, I just got home at 3am to find that I inadvertently took this post down as I was trying to correct it at the airport. My 8:35 flight finally boarded at 10:35. And took off at ONE THIRTY. Three hours on the tarmac.

    It wasn’t so bad. I had a whole row to myself. But I was worrying about the smoked fish and cream cheese I brought back from NYC. Do you think you can still eat smoked trout when it’s been unrefrigerated for 11 hours? Well, it was wrapped in an insulated bag with one of them frozen gel pack things.

    And when I unpacked it just now, it was still at little cool.

    I’m thinking the fish might be okay, but probably not the scallion cream cheese.

    Thanks for listening…guess I needed to wind down a bit after all the excitement.

  5. tea says:

    i’d eat it.

  6. Fr├Ąulein says:

    We’re all coming over to eat it with you.

  7. yelena says:

    Oh god. I was having dessert with my brother and a friend that night, when I spotted you walk in, and foolishly explained to them who you were and how awesome it was that you were there. So, for the rest of the night, they goaded me about sending you over some chocolate, but I thought I had played it cool enough. However, as soon as I left the restaurant, they ran back in and sent you the chocolate teddy bear. I hope it wasn’t too creepy – it must be so weird to have strangers recognize you out and about. But I guess it’s New York, and Dyke Slope of all places…chances are high ­čÖé

  8. June says:

    Ian, what’s your athletics blog? I love track and field, but in the States we only get to see it on TV during Olympics years. I watched the Prefontaine Classic a couple of weeks ago, but it left me feeling ignorant and wanting more, more, more.

    (“She’s the cat’s mother” was such a part of my childhood, but I haven’t heard it in years–except coming out of my own mouth, only to be met with confused smiles.)

  9. ksbel6 says:

    That cow in Brooklyn reminds of the “Cow Town” display that was in KC a few years back. There were all these fancy cows all over the city painted by famous artists…it was cool. Maybe AB could do a DTWOF espisode on a giant cow…then we could put it next to a huge butter statue of her in the Iowa state fair ­čÖé

  10. freyakat says:

    Hi Alison,

    VIs-a-vis the food, I’d reverse your inclinations: forget the unrefrigerated smoked trout (unless it’s vacuum-packed) and go with the unrefrigerated-but-still-slightly-cool scallion cream cheese (there are one or two brands of cream cheese around that have no preservatives or stabilizers, but it is unlikely that the people who created your scallion cream cheese use those brands).

  11. Jesse N says:

    I’d taste them both and see how you feel. It would be a shame to have to toss either of them away. I hope you brought back some bagels too!

  12. Pam I. says:

    I thought maybe you’d popped over to our lovely new town of Milton Keynes, famous for its concrete cows.
    Or maybe one of them got the last cheap flight to NY.

  13. Ellen O. says:

    Thoughtful article on the complexity of gay marriage in the New York Times today.

    Does anyone understand the Jane Austen and the author’s deck reference above? Or is it a mysterious excerpt to keep us enticed until Entertainment Weekly comes out?

  14. shadocat says:

    ksbel, I remember the cows fondly—much better than the teddy bears they tried a couple of years later.

    What would a D2WO4 cow look like? Would she have a “cowlick”?

  15. Catsanova says:

    Well, if you’re milking in Brooklyn, I guess milk’s what you’ve got…

  16. Bookbird says:

    Maybe the sneak peek is referring to “Authors” the card game?

  17. catsanova! well done on getting my Ferron reference!

    bookbird, yeah, I’m talking about the “Authors” card game. I should have put quotation marks around it.

    hey! Holly and I ate the smoked trout, and also some wild smoked salmon around noon and so far have suffered no ill effects. we passed on the cream cheese.

  18. Deena in OR says:

    Alison…so sorry to hear of your airport woes! While you were cooling your heels at JFK, the Oregon chapter of the AB fan club were meeting in your honor in Eugene. A fine time and good eats were had by Deena, Feminista, Jain, Marsha and Heather. Sorry…no pics this time around.

  19. Deena in OR says:

    …I guess that would be *was* meeting in your honor…

    Deena, self policing her grammar.

  20. Deena in OR says:

    Did you know that first editions of Fun Home are selling for $50.00 at Powells?

  21. ready2agitate says:

    You’re drawing the WPA logo??? – that’s too cool!
    But 3 hours on the tarmac – ouch. Been there. yuck.

    I think of you often, I like you a lot.
    But if it’s snowing in Brooklyn,
    (Yes if it’s snowing in Brooklyn…)
    I’d say snow’s what you’ve got.”

    I (heart) Ferron.

  22. Feminista says:

    Yes,we ate delicious Italian food & enjoyed a walk on Eugene’s west side (though we didn’t break out in song & dance as in West Side Story). We talked of increasing attendance at
    our next meet up; surely there are more DTWOF fans in western OR. Notify us here,and we can add you to our list.

    We do have a question for Seattle area bloggers: when did you have your first meeting? Ours was in late Feb.’07.

  23. gorila says:

    just read fun home today and wanted to say youre a great artist. really.

  24. Kate Evans says:

    Ooh, I can’t wait to hear more about the WPA thing. The Coit Tower murals in SF are some of my favorite things in the world. (And the sidewalks in our neighborhood are stamped WPA 1930-something…)

  25. Aunt Soozie says:

    Love Ferron. Love that song. She just rips your heart out, doesn’t she? Saw her perform with Bitch recently. They were great together.
    3 hours on the tarmac is just wrong… false imprisonment, I say.

  26. Megan says:

    Oooh! I live a few blocks away from that very cow. How neat to see a familiar sight when hitting your blog!

    And also: the JFK-Burlington, VT flights always get screwed on the delay front. Smaller planes, less people, lower priority. Alas, I know this all too well. ­čÖé

  27. --MC says:

    I’ve never read “The Orchid Thief” either, but Susan Orlean wrote an incredible article for the NYer about The Shaggs (with a brilliant Jaime Hernandez illustration) that I still have and treasure.

  28. Artemise says:

    Hi! I┬┤m from Brasil. I read Fun Home and loved it! I┬┤ve never read a graphic novel before, and think you┬┤re a genious!!

  29. Ann S. in Madison says:

    Gawd, AB has sexy hands. I’m just sayin’.

  30. LEM says:

    I was listening to NPR a few days ago and caught the tail end of some program – an interview with a woman author about a new book, I believe. It sounded like a book about women authors and she mentioned that her choices included Julia Alverez and AB. Can anyone tell me the name of the book and the author? I did not get either one. Thanks.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I love Adaptation! And Meryl Streep!
    …and Fun Home…

  32. Suz says:

    You’re milking a bull, AB!

    The bulls in NYC were another of those civic art dealies. We had bulls as in bull [stock] market.

    Another Park Sloper in the house, and another reader who recognized you on the street.

  33. NLC says:


    The woman being interviewed was Robyn Warhol-Down, one of the editors of the new _McGraw HillÔÇÖs Anthology of WomenÔÇÖs Writing_.

    Here’s a link I posted to the show the other day:

  34. Jen says:

    @ Ann S: I noticed her hands too, but mostly for the veins! AB: if you ever need an IV started, look me up, those are awesome! Nurses, interns, residents dream of veins like that…

  35. LEM says:

    NLC – Thanks so much!

  36. Jen says:

    re: the veins thing (I’m still dwelling on AB’s lovely veins)… another of my fave blogs has a post and comments on nice veins AND she’s an artist too AND she has a book coming out soon. Wait long enough and universes collide. Check out the “Scut monkey” stuff

  37. Tabea says:

    sorry I write this in german ….. someone around who can help?

    Alison, ich wei├č nicht so recht. Seit Jahren verfolge ich mit gro├čer Faszination die dtwof.

    (Mein Englisch ist zwar gut genug, die Texte im Original zu genie├čen, aber nicht ausreichend, um ausdr├╝cken zu k├Ânnen, was mir jetzt am Herzen liegt.)

    ├ťber die derzeitige Entwicklung bin ich zugegeben zutiefst verbl├╝fft.

    Ich glaube verstanden zu haben, dass schon der Strip f├╝r dich ganz wesentlich die Bedeutung hatte, dich selbst in den Facetten deiner Pers├Ânlichkeit zu zeigen und deine eigene Wahrnehmung und Sicht auf das Leben, die Politik und den Rest der Welt in die Plots einflie├čen zu lassen. Deine pointierte Dokumentation lesbischen Lebens war letztlich dann wohl auch ein Einblick in deine pers├Ânliche Entwicklung. “Fr├╝her war Mo soetwas wie mein alter ego, inzwischen entspricht die Pers├Ânlichkeit von Sydney viel eher derjenigen zu der ich mich entwickelt habe.” So in etwa erinnere ich mich, hast du dich mal ge├Ąu├čert. In einem Fernsehbericht, der k├╝rzlich im deutschen Fernsehen lief, hie├č es “Alison Bechdel zeichnet viele Stunden am Tag … immer wieder sich selbst”. Die zahlreichen Bilder von dir wurden gespiegelt in den in Kreisen und Wellen verlaufenden Geschichten, Episoden und Schicksalen. Geb├╝ndelt zu einem bunten Strauss gelebten Lebens. Jetzt pl├Âtzlich gibt es nur noch dich. Der Filter der verschiedenen von dir erdachten Charaktere ist entfernt, der Fokus auf dein Leben, deinen Alltag gerichtet und geb├╝ndelt. Letztlich eine logische Weiterentwicklung der in Fun Home gezeigten ganz unmittelbaren Einblicke in dein privates Leben. Dort jedoch noch die Reflexion der Retrospektive, die Verfremdung durch die Zeichnung, durch die Wirklichkeit nicht nur abgebildet, sondern gleichzeitig auch gestaltet wird. Soweit der Fokus allein auf dich gerichtet ist, wird mir das Bild eher unscharf und ….irgendwie banal. Wenn ich mich fr├╝her dem Strip vielleicht auch mit der Erwartung gen├Ąhert habe, mehr ├╝ber dich, die ihn kreiiert, erfahren zu d├╝rfen, erscheint mir diese unmittelbare N├Ąhe jetzt pl├Âtzlich viel zu nah.

    Mir fehlen die facettenreichen Spiegel deiner Charaktere, deiner Dialoge und deiner atemberaubenden Handlungsstr├Ąnge, die mir ├╝ber all die Jahre Qeuelle von Inspiration, Weisheit und Humor gewesen sind. Die mir dich und auch mich selbst von vielen unterschiedlichen Seiten gezeigt haben und die das Leben um mich herum sch├Ąrfer wahrnehmbar, verst├Ąndlicher und handhabbarer gemacht haben. Und nicht zuletzt, mir fehlst du als Chronistin des Zeitgeschehens.

    Ich kann wohl nicht ermessen mit wieviel Arbeit, Verantwortung und Pflichterf├╝llung dieser Job, den du die ganze Zeit gemacht hast, verbunden ist und dennoch:

    “Ich w├╝rde mich sehr freuen, wenn du weiter machst.”

    Herzliche Gr├╝├če

  38. NLC says:

    Until someone has the time to help Herzliche more directly with the translation, here’s how the Google Language Tools handles it:

    Alison, I really do not know. For years I have great fascination with the dtwof.

    My English is good enough, the texts in the original to enjoy, but not enough to be able to express what I’m now at the heart.)

    About the current development, I am admittedly deeply puzzled.

    I think to have understood that even the Strip for you very much the importance had yourself in the facets of your personality to show and your own perceptions and views on life, politics and the rest of the world in the plot due to . Your documentation pointed lesbian life was ultimately will probably also an insight into your personal development. “Previously, Mo was something like my alter ego, meanwhile, the personality of Sydney much more likely that on which I had developed.” So I remember about me, you’ve expressed times. In a television, which recently ran on German television, called it “Alison Bechdel draws many hours a dayÔÇŽ repeatedly itself. The many pictures of you were mirrored in the waves in circles and running stories, episodes and fates. Geb├╝ndelt to Strauss lived a colorful life. Now suddenly there is only you. The filter of the different characters invented by you is removed, the focus on your life, your everyday addressed and bundled. Ultimately, a logical development in Fun Home shown very direct insight into your private life. There remains the reflection of the retrospective, the alienation by the drawing, by the reality not only displayed but also designed. Where the focus solely on Register is addressed to me is the image rather vague andÔÇŽ. Somehow banal. When I used to the Strip may also be approached with the expectation that more about you, it kreiiert, to be able to learn, it seems to me this immediate vicinity suddenly much too close.

    I lack the multi-faceted mirror of your characters, your dialogue and your breathtaking plots to me about all the years Qeuelle of inspiration, wisdom and humor have been. The Register and I myself from many different sides have shown and the life around me sharper perceptible, made understandable and manageable. And last but not least, I fehlst you as a chronicler of current affairs.

    I can not gauge how much with work, responsibility and duty of this job, you’ve made all the time, is nevertheless:

    “I would be very happy if you continue to do.”

  39. Lerner says:

    “I would be very happy if you continue to do” I think just about sums it up, no?

  40. Chris says:

    Aw man, you were at Pintchik Hardware — that’s my neighborhood hardware store! Did you notice that Brooklyn now has its own branch of Babeland now, right on the same block? You can go buy your hardware, and then you can go buy your hardware, if you know what I mean. ­čÖé

  41. judybusy says:

    Yup, I think Tabea is pretty much saying, “I would like the strip, back please!” Ich auch, ich auch! Aber, ich verstehe das AB braucht die Zeit fur das neues Buch zu schreiben!

  42. Aunt Soozie says:

    Wow…. a plea in German for more DTWOF… and very well argued. I think she was referencing the piece that those German guys filmed at Alison’s house… don’t you think? Gee Alison… what do you think of that?

  43. NLC says:

    ([Blush] boy howdy is my face red. In my note preceding the auto-transaltion of the message above I assumed that “Herzliche Gr├╝├če” was a closing-signature. Hence my line about “Until someone has the time to help Herzliche…” It’s been pointed out to me that it actually means “cordial greetings…”)

  44. judybusy says:

    NLC, I hope Tabea is is reading and giggling at this very moment!

  45. Feminista says:

    And on another subject…

    There’s a Yahoo news story just posted re: Del Martin’s and Phyllis Lyon’s legal-at-last marriage today at City Hall in San Fran. It *only* took 55 years for their partnership to receive legal recognition!

    (Sorry,forgot the link,but it’s something like

  46. priorities says:

    Thank ghods. I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for some more info. ­čśë The old WPA books rock my world and I thank you for reminding me that I need to check ’em out from the library again. It has been too long.

    And, channeling Ginger-Malika, how long have you been working out? I don’t suppose a physique like yours just happens.

  47. Ian says:

    Um, isn’t that AB’s drawing hand with the veins? Question answered methinketh.

  48. Bookbird says:

    Now we have to wait to find out how Jane Austen NOT being in the Authors deck leads to knowledge…

    Suz, is that bovine in your neighborhood, that you know it’s a bull? Its sex (to say nothing of its gender) is unclear in the photo. And even if it started off as a bull, it could have been modified by the artist. Although when we had horses (definitely male horses) here in Rochester for our civic art fiberglass animals, some of the artists apparently weren’t comfortable and a few of the horses acquired carefully draped ribbons or banners, at least one was de-sexed entirely (rather creepy), but none so far as I know was turned into a mare.

  49. Ian says:

    Hmmmm transgender cattle? New York just gets weirder every day …

  50. Andi says:

    AB, you’re gettin’ so famous! Entertainment Weekly, a movie, meetin’ really famous authors… hey, we knew ya when.

    As for the bovine, I’d say if there’s anything for AB to grab (e.g., udders) then it’s a girl. Gender politics notwithstanding.

  51. The Cat Pimp says:

    I think its so cute that Yelena’s brother sent AB some chocolate at that restaurant. And female cattle can have horns, fyi.

  52. d/f/ says:

    ok, since no one’s taken it there … (amazing reserve y’all). might as well do what’s screamin’ to be done. since we’re on the brink.

    udders. veins. grabbing with well-developed hands.

    AB, could you enlighten us as to the cow’s biological status? (we don’t, of course, know how it identifies.) but leave it to AB to successfully milk a bull. if anyone can (and i can think of a few folks), she’s surely tops among them. sheesh, with *those* veins…

    that is one lucky cow, gender politics notwithstanding.

    and *y’kno* AB had to be feelin’ her studliness. you can just *see* the strut in that smirk.

    arright, arright, duty done. anyone wanna pick it up? i’m signin’ off now.

  53. Feminista says:

    Udderly charming.:)

    Partial lyrics to Cows with Guns

    And we will fight for bovine freedom
    And raise our large heads high…

    Cows with guns
    Bad cow puns
    Cows well hung (!?)
    Mooow Zedong…

  54. Brazenfemme says:

    Ah! Feminista! I love that song! Sad ending of course, “cows well done”.

  55. C. says:

    Happy California Day! Have you talked about it with “The Moose”?

  56. Feminista says:

    Brazen–But remember the “chickens with choppers” who saved the day?

  57. That was totally a cow. Also, I was clearly not the first person to have the oh so clever idea of milking her–the paint was all worn off her teats.

    I don’t know what’s up with my veins…must be all the bovine growth hormone.

  58. Oh, yeah! I was totally checking out the hardware at the new Babeland shop, just down the street from the cow.

  59. 8balled says:

    In his memoir ‘Kitchen Confidential,’ Anthony Bourdain writes about selling off his comics to support his [then] drug habit. Is he a fan of ‘Dykes’? ‘Fun Home’?

  60. spoilsport says:

    State by State looks awesome! Can’t wait. I bet lots of kids milked the cow.

  61. Claude says:

    Je crois que c’est une Limousine, je les reconnais ├á vu d’oeil. Mais que fait elle ├á Brooklyn?

  62. Feminista says:

    RE: Susan Orlean. My late husband was her classmate & friend in Shaker Heights,Ohio. This suburban Cleveland high school was diverse(1/3 Black,1/3 Jewish)and progressive (the District regularly chartered buses for late 60s/early 70s peace marches in DC).

    Before Susan became famous,the struggling writer lived here in Portland,OR,penning articles such as how to live hip & cheaply. We’re proud of being the site of arguably the largest indy bookstore in the world,Powell’s. AND our indy feminist In Other Words Book & Resource Center is still in business.

    We read a lot. Must be the rain.

  63. cd in Madison says:

    Speaking of how our NY cow identifies….. I grew up on a dairy farm, which is where I first observed lesbian behavior. Yes, among the cows. Often. I think they were relieving stress or something. Happy cows, they were. It was a real eye-opener for me, and I figured if they could be happy, so could I. Set my path for life.

  64. Debs says:

    If you haven’t thrown away the scallion cream cheese yet, I say go ahead and eat it. Unless it smells really, really strange. It was in an insulated cold pack. I’ve left similar foods out for longer, and not in a cold pack. Besides, it’s scallion cream cheese!

    Your JFK experience sounds excruciating.


  65. Donna says:

    how is anthony bourdain so skinny? i know he smokes, but still….