Six Ways To Relax And Put A Terrible 2016 In The Rear-View

We’ve had a rough year, no doubt. We’ve lost so many of our cultural touchstones — David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen. There’ve been earthquakes. Fires. And politics? Well, let’s not even go there.

Let’s just not.

We’re all in need of some time out and some self-care. Is work getting you down? Maybe you’re thinking about how your parents are Trump supporters. Are you feeling that sickening churn deep in your guts again? Well, no more. Time to open yourself up to all the joy this world has to offer!



Incredible beaches

Summer’s upon us! That can only mean one thing: hit the beach! Will it be a long, dusty road trip with a refreshing, icy-cold cliff-dive at the end? A traditional snags-sun-and-surf local dip? Maybe it’s cocktails and a cheeky tan with the girls!

You’ll have your pick, from the twinkling swells of Bar Beach in Newcastle to the astounding geological formations of the Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck in Tassie.

You’ll probably avoid Cronulla. It reminds you of those race riots that happened there — which reminds you that your parents are, in fact, supporters of Donald Trump, who fanned the flames of race hatred to win the US presidency.




Music is all about soul, and no festival is more soulful than the venerable Bluesfest, which returns in 2017 with an almost unbelievable lineup. Each year there’s something for everyone, but the 28th Bluesfest is almost like a whole music festival especially designed for each of us!

For you, it’ll be Mary J. Blige, Mavis Staples and your secret crush — headliner Neil Young. The boy will no doubt dash off for big doses of Madness, Jethro Tull and Patti Smith (well… you’ll probably join him for Patti)!

And you might just catch a favourite “classic” act, like Santana or Rickie Lee Jones. You remember your mum playing you her Rickie Lee Jones albums when you were just a tiny kid!

A little tear wells up as you remember the beauty of Rickie’s songs… and the ugliness of Donald Trump. It was bad enough when Mum changed from a believer in abortion rights to a person who could support John Howard and George W. Bush, but knowing she can get behind a man who’s known to dud contractors, mock the disabled and encourage violence against reporters is almost too much for you to bear.



Organise a crafternoon

Living rooms and cafes across Australia will be bustling with crafts this summer… and you’re invited! Why not start your own “crafternoon” with your friends and neighbours? Cross-stitch, drawing, origami, even jewellery and accessory making can be easy and fun!

Dad’s current favourite hobby is crafting his own bullets in the garage. He does a lot of target practice these days. He believes an uprising is coming amongst the Muslims of the world. He believes many things, especially when they come out of the mouth of Andrew Bolt or Cory Bernardi.



Virtual reality’s coming of age

For a change of pace, strap on some goggles and try out one of the new generation of virtual reality devices! The new upgrade to HTC Vive makes it completely wireless, Oculus Rift has a shiny new port of Minecraft, and Playstation VR’s got the upcoming Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, if you’re game to step into a nightmarish horror world!

You’ll struggle, of course, to find a more horrifying world than the one you live in currently. A world where the president-elect of the most powerful country in the world has a right-hand-man devoted to mainstreaming white nationalism, and your parents — Jewish parents, mind you — are OK with this.



Meditation and mindfulness

Your mother actually said the “Nazi stuff” is “the one thing about Trump she’s not thrilled about”. Because everything else about him is so wonderful.

“What about everything I was taught about the Holocaust?”, you ask. “‘Never Forget’ and all that?”

She grins. “Hillary’s no better.”

“Is Hillary getting on board with actual neo-Nazis?”, you ask?

She grins again, because you are a silly rabbit.



Sizzling summer reads

There’s nothing better than losing yourself in a book. Preferably one written a long time ago. Avoid television. You don’t know which Dancing With The Stars host might come out as bigoted.

Don’t read Facebook. It lies. Don’t read think-pieces. And if you do, don’t read the comments.

Try to keep on speaking terms with your parents if you can.

But don’t read this email:

"Straight to the rifle range"

Bye Jory

Jory Prum

My cousin Jory Prum died today; he was in a road accident a few weeks back and never came good.

Jory was an inspiring guy. He was a very kind, good person, he cared about politics local and beyond and he was an artist (music and sound design). He made a name for himself doing work for video games, including at Lucasarts, and more recently working on Telltale releases, with Norwegian atudios and countless more.

He’s also known for being part of the team that made “For the Birds”, the Oscar-winning Pixar short. Go watch it. He created the “voice” of the big, ungainly bird. He told me he manipulated a soda straw to get it.

I was personally inspired by him because he worked in the animation business (which seemed very far away when I was dreaming about it in the mid ’90s) and because he did “silly” things.

What I mean is that he did elaborate things (run for political office, start his own sound studio, take incredibly long train journeys, track down every other person named “Jory” on Earth) for reasons that were not “to make money”, but, rather, “to learn”, “to make good art” or “because it’s funny”.

People think of that behaviour as “silly” sometimes. I’m frightened often by how easy it is for many people to demonise artists, piss on what they do and think of it as worthless. It was always reassuring to me that Jory was around, doing those things, living the life he wanted to and making the world a better, happier place as he did so.

He was a vital, wonderful guy, and now all of a sudden he’s gone and I’m uploading a photo of him to my blog, making sure to put “Jory Prum” in the alt text for the picture because otherwise someone searching for his name on Google in the future might not find it.

Thanks to everything he accomplished and because of the kind of guy he was, he doesn’t need me to upload a photo or write this stuff to be remembered. A hell of a lot of people knew and loved Jory.

I wish my daughter had gotten to meet him. Everyone should have some Jory in their life. Luckily Sarah and I are both artists and we know how to be “silly” too. I learned from the best!

Ben Garrison in French

What the heck?

I did a long comic for The Nib (an excellent resource for current graphic journalism and Trump jokes) last year about Ben Garrison, a libertarian cartoonist victimised by trolls for many years. Frédéric Pierron offered to translate it into French as he thought French readers might find it interesting too. Now it’s done (though I can see a few places where I forgot to replace the English “quote marks” with French << quote brackets >>)!

Ca alors!

If you speak French, or know someone who does, pass it on!

English – The Internet’s Most Trolled Cartoonist (Who’s Ben Garrison)
French – The Internet’s Most Trolled Cartoonist (Qui est Ben Garrison?)