Friday, August 31, 2012

I Held Her While She Cried...

Back in 1988 (or thereabouts), I was managing a bar in Houston, Texas.  It was a fun setup: the owner and I were the only males.  All the employees were young, attractive women.  Just girls, most of them - they got carded when they went to other bars.

Of course, I had to do all the heavy lifting, from hoisting beer kegs to acting as the bouncer.  But it was a fun place to work.

Until the night that one of the girls was raped.

It didn't happen in the bar.  It was several blocks away.  This was long before cell phones, so we had no idea what had happened until she stumbled into the bar, bruised and weeping.

It was almost closing time, and I was doing the monthly inventory.  I put down my clipboard, went to her and helped her over to the sofa.  The owner wasn't present, but three of her co-workers (all female) were.

To this day, I don't understand why she wanted me to comfort her.  I was her boss, not her boyfriend. She told us she had been attacked by four Hispanic guys, who pulled their car over when they spotted her walking home alone from a friend's house.  They were forcing her into their car when another car drove by, slowly.  Caught in the other car's headlights, the men got scared and drove off, leaving her behind.  The other car never stopped to help, though.

So: she had just been attacked by four men.  There were three women, her co-workers and friends, there to comfort her.  Instead, she held onto me and cried for three solid hours.  To my way of thinking, she'd want to get as far away from males as possible.  But she choose me.

She wouldn't let us call the police or a rape crisis center.  At least I knew enough to tell her that it wasn't her fault.  And not to complain when she vomited on me and the sofa.  (I told the other girls to fetch the champagne bucket for her to vomit in, but they were too late.)

I also knew NOT to say what I was thinking.  I didn't ask why she was out alone, walking in a dangerous city after midnight, wearing a two-piece terry cloth outfit that looked like it didn't have enough material to make a decent wash towel.

When she calmed down, two of the other girls and I took her home.  She rented a room in a house owned by - I'm not making this up - a little person.  A dwarf, I suppose.  He had three young female boarders.  He, too, told her that it wasn't her fault.  Unlike me, he'd been through this before.  His other two boarders were strippers, and they'd put him though some unpleasantness.

The girl eventually did make a report to the police, and even showed up to work the next day.  She seemed to put the whole thing behind her very quickly.

What brought this incident to mind was an article on by Rebecca Rogers Maher titled "What to Say If Your Best Friend Tells You She Was Raped."  It's not exactly the same situation as the one I experienced, but I wished I had known SOMETHING back then, while I was holding a weeping woman and wondering what to do.

I hope you never need this information.  But better to know it and not need it, than to need it and not know it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Life of a Freelance Writer, Part Three

I woke up this morning to an offer of paid writing work. Could I rearrange my day to start immediately?  Yes, as a matter of fact I could!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Life of a Freelance Writer, Part Two

I've having a much better week now.  One of my critique groups read a short story of mine, and all five women in the group felt that the protagonist (a woman) was believable.  Writing the opposite gender is always a challenge for me.

And I made some writing income this week!  I just got a check for US$ 22.50.

Now I can put a down payment on that villa in the South of France....

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joe Kubert, 1926 - 2012

Artist and Educator Joe Kubert 

During my abortive career as an artist and illustrator, I had only two memorable moments.
One was when I dated and slept with one of the nude models in my life-drawing class.

The other was having my artwork corrected by the great Joe Kubert.

Kubert, who died yesterday at the age of 85, was one of the giants of the comic book industry.  The son of a Kosher butcher, he wandered into a studio of comic book artists at the tender age of 11.  It took him a year before he could sell any of his artwork.  By his own admission, his early work wasn't very good - but in what is now known as the Golden Age of Comics, anything went.  Entrepreneurs were grinding out comics as quickly as they could, and many of them made fortunes.

Joe Kubert's artwork improved.  He developed a distinctive style, with fluid, heavy inks.  Not only did he become very good indeed, he became very fast.  His speed was the envy of his contemporaries.

He helped create the military comic Sgt. Rock, and was noted for his early work on Hawkman.  (Winged characters are not easy to draw.  How many feathers do you delineate on a hero with a 15-foot wingspan?  Kubert made it look effortless.)

After fifty years in comics, Joe and his late wife Muriel started the first full-time school of comic art.  The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art was founded in 1976.  Today, the Dover, NJ, school has taken over a three-story building which once housed the Dover High School.  His students come from all over the world.  The school offers a three year course of instruction.

It was at his school, where I attended summer art classes, that I had the privilege of having Joe Kubert instruct me.  And, on one occasion, he took pen in hand and drew over one of my drawings, showing me how it should be done.

It was the highlight of my artistic career.  Joe Kubert touched my art!  He DREW on it!

Eventually, I found that I was a much better writer than artist, and gave up my artistic ambitions.  Since I now suffer from tendinitis in my hands, it turned out to be a wise decision.

As for Kubert, both his artwork and his school continue to influence thousands of artists.  He managed all this while remaining one of the best-liked artists in the industry. 

'Bye, Joe.  We'll miss you.  Thanks for everything.

Below: Cover of the 1969 comic "DC Special," featuring the work of Joe Kubert.  
He was the only artist so honored.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Life of a Freelance Writer

So far this hasn't been a profitable week.  The closest I've come to income is a postcard from Starbucks entitling me to a free drink.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I Ain't Dead Yet

I've been absurdly busy the past few months, which has caused me to neglect my blog.  (As I'm sure both my followers have noticed.)  But that project is done, and I'm back now.

Yet, while I was otherwise engaged, it seems that blogging is no longer de rigueur for writers. I was catching up on Elif Batuman's blog, only to find that she's suspended her blogging!  She blames this on a note in the New York Times Book Review, which says that Twitter has rendered blogging obsolete.

Well, none of my work has ever been mentioned in the New York Times Book Review.*  Until it is, I don't feel obliged to obey its ukase.  I'll be soon as I have something interesting to report.

* However, a business book I co-wrote has been referenced in the Business section of the New York Times.  So I'm working my way towards the Book Review.  I anticipate appearing in the Real Estate section any day now.