In The Post-Modern, Deconstructed, Gritty-but-Sensitive Bear, Anne recalls what was my favorite issue of Bears on Text, number two. Of course, a cover drawn by me helps, but the real star of the show is Ed Emmer’s no-holds-barred pay-per-view all-singing, all-dancing clothesline-and-piledriver takedown wetjob on Tom Wolfe.
Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be online. It’s a shame, because Ed takes one look at that white suit and recognizes it as an invitation to sling the mud, blood, pee, puke, piss, and poo.
Actually, he is perfectly well-mannered in the essay, but O My Lord.
By the end of the essay every little nagging doubt you ever experienced while reading a Tom Wolfe essay, book, or novel (“hm, that’s kind of self serving. Oh well, it’s pretty witty.” or “heh, nice phrase. But wait, isn’t that a lie?”) has been outed, drafted, put through basic training, and rushed to the front.
Of course, it’s not as though Mr. Wolfe ever saw the thing, or that more than a couple of hundred other people ever did. But believe me, those of us who read it don’t see Wolfe as the court jester of the avant-garde, or even a standardbearer of the New Journalism. Nope, he’s a bootlickin’ toady, working with great vim to establish his title at a different court.
Ed’s a highly conceptual creator and part of his deal was that the piece be framed as an answer to a ballyhooed essay that Wolfe published around the time of “Bonfire of the Vanities” original publication, in which he laid out a “Painted Word” style assault on pomo writing in general, criticism and theory or otherwise (this part of the essay is well viewed as a companion to “The Painted Word”) and followed it up with a prescriptive towards The Great American Novel, in which he says, observe the world and write what you see, as Zola did.
Which is fine, even deep advice.
Well, I’m going on and on about something you’ll never get to read, that execrable old-school rock-critics trick, so I should shut up now.
However, Anne asked my to scan and post some material from BOT 1, and I also have the prep-work for the cover.
First, Gus (The old perfesser, I think) cribbed a sketch by his brilliant collaborator Tim Hittle and captioned it as you see at the top of this entery: “Bears on Text, the magazine with GUTS,” atop a cheerfully smiling view of viscera.
The cover to BOT 2 was by yours truly. It began life as marginalia in my notes on Hellenistic art theory (you see, “Plotinus rejects symmetria” – he does, too, arguing in favor of emanation, a doctrine, as it happened, that fit the rhetorical needs of early Church fathers such as Constantine, which is why I know now who Plotinus is, see).
Little rats, and a bear eating a burger and a shake.
When he made it to the cover, he got a dunce cap, for who knows what reason (perhaps he’s played the fool?) and as Anne notes, I inscribed the words “Glasnost for all but US and Panama” along the interior border. I don’t know why. I suspect it was a comment on the US invasion of Panama under Poppy (in hindsight some kind of dry run for the events of the past two weeks – are there other odious men the Bush family seated once and shall now redress? Not for eighteen months or so, I bet) and the desire for change here at home I felt, watching the reforms begin in the East. But it was really just some toss off, a casual, contextless remark that I can’t accurately situate.
There is also an arrow on the cover pointing to a blank spot labeled “tape.” For no particular reason, I was really into visually-evident paste-up as a design element at the time.
For this cover, I used masking tape to put the pieces in place on the board – something that did not reproduce in the final edition, to my disappointment.
I had fun with a real wowser of a copier located near the fine-art library, though – all-digital, this baby could halftone, invert, and zoom up to several hundred percent, most of which I did in getting the image large enough to use and clear enough to reproduce via conventional photocopier.