Tuesday, December 29, 2009

a candle for the youth of Iran

May this year bring footing to the freedom fighters in Iran, trying to free the people from oppression.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Terror Continues....

Israel attacked the civilian population of Gaza a year ago. There were many eyewitness accounts from foreign journalists of how the Israeli military lured entire families out of buildings with promises of safety then opened fire upon them when they left the buildings. 1,400 people were killed during Israel's "offensive" (a light and pleasant word for genocide), most of them civilians. I have not forgotten. Israel can ignore the UN, the US and anyone else, but we will never forget what they have done. Just like they will never forget what happened to their ancestors in northern Europe, we will not forget what they have done to the Palestinians.

Despite what the TV media says, the Israeli life is NO MORE VALUABLE than the Palestinian one.

Conditions for the citizens of Gaza are worse than they have ever been.

What do we do?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Passing is
ice melting
vapor rises
falls as snow and ice again

Passing is blinking in the sun

Passing is hardest for those still here

Passing is...


Monday, December 21, 2009


I am heavy with sadness and worry. My grandfather Elton, the unstoppable, is in the hospital.
He had a stroke recently and is in deteriorating condition as I write. My mom and her brothers and sister are all there with he and his wife, Lisa. We are praying for him and thinking of him throughout the days. I am remembering clutching his strong, wiry body with all my might as we raced through the twisting streets of Sierra Madre on his motorcycle. I was five. It was terrifying and breathtaking all at once. And, I think of Elton on any number of peaks he climbed late into his days, even with bum knees and other problems that would stop any normal man. I think of his fluency in culture. His many trips to all ends of the earth. His explorative nature I am grateful to have inherited.

I think of Elton and smile, grateful to be descended from such manner of man! Be engulfed in peace and grace and love, Papa. I love you and am pulling for you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas

I would say Happy Holidays but ... I'm not Jewish, Muslim or black so Hanukkah, Eid, and Kwanzaa are out. This leaves me either Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, and since wishing someone happy days-are-getting-longer is less than romantic, I am sticking with XMAS. So let the PC police come drag my ass to holiday prison.

I am all about Christmas this year. Reasons?
1. I do not work in retail.
2. I have little kids who are now old enough to really get into it and enjoy Christmas.
3. Birthday of my favorite real life Superhero.

Here is our little second hand manger scene. I like it. It does not have as much soul as the one my family made out of salted dough when I was a kid, but this one does have one thing our old one did not. The force. Oh yeah.

Don't get me wrong. I have loads of complaints and issues with this historically inaccurate celebration of a mix of 98% commercialism, 1% santa worship and 0.5% each of the blending of pagan and christian traditions. But I don't really care that much. I am just a huge fan of Jesus. Not the one on all the walls. You know. The guy with charming, deep blue eyes and long blondish hair. I know that guy and he ain't Jesus. He is Kevin, the surfer guy I partied with in San Diego. He is alright but I seriously doubt those midwesterners would keep his picture on their wall if they knew some of the stuff this guy has gotten into. I am a fan of the real Jesus.... or at least as close to the real Jesus that I can gather. He is a radical. A revolutionary. A thorn in the side of religious institutions, both then and now. He is a compassionate and flexible humanist whose love of people trumps his obedience to rules. He is inflexible when it comes to presenting the truth even if it offends people whose lifestyles (including my own) conflict with the message. He is worth looking into if all you know about him is that he looks like my friend Kevin and he is an old book. Because nothing is more annoying than either uneducated liberals bashing Jesus for fascist things people have done in his name, or Teabaggers and Stormtroopers using Jesus as their poster-child for war, aggression and plain old fashion idiocy. Damn, that's annoying.
Sermon over.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taken Hostage by Story

This has been a crazy busy week. Tomorrow is the Watson Holiday Sale, etc, so I have so much to do tonight. I've got to print labels and organize books and pack art into the cars. I've got to create title cards, help gather the drinks and answer all my emails. And I really need to get back to work, editing my story. I am too busy to waste any time, even little chunks.

And yet...

... since about 7:30 or so tonight, I have been completely incarcerated by a book. Within the first several pages.... take that back... within the first two pages, I was sucked deep and fast into the world of this story. I had to just read it through to the end tonight. And I did. And it was amazing.

Thompson's art is strong and sincere, his characters painfully realistic. The amount of work spent on this kind of staggers my brain. I wonder how long he spent creating this. Regardless, this is one of my new favorite books. After I return it to the library, I am ordering one.

by Craig Thompson
A beautiful masterpiece of storytelling.

Jesse scale: 7 out of 7
(hell, 10 out of 7)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

old photoz

My uncle Clark taking me for a spin on his Hobie Cat. June gloom in Long Beach.

me spinning solo in Yosemite. Maybe 19 years old? (I don't know. I am not a mathist, I'm an artist. Jeez.)

This pic below makes me laugh every time I wade through the deep water of my plastic box of old photos. When I was around 21 years old, I had a job with my girlfriend's dad as a land surveyor grunt. It was a great job in many ways. It was hard. Lots of hiking and carrying heavy stuff.

One side benefit? Wilderness art. Since we were marking property lines and would tag trees that were along the edge of a property of a timber company with a hatchet chop and a dash of red spray paint, I had a brilliant idea. Why not "decorate" a few snags or trees slated for becoming front decks in Japan?

So I left my mark in the high Trinity Alps. I imagined loggers, buzzing on lukewarm coffee and many other things, running down the hill in their spiked boots and stumbling upon one of my trees. It always made me smile. Still does.

Lastly, I leave you with the end for me. What I am pretty sure was the end for me. The end of creativity flowing. The end of endless potential. The end of unconfined exploration.
My Kindergarten class. I don't mean to be nihilistic or shade schools in any light other than positive, (I AM a freakin' teacher) but for me, school was a long and dim tunnel of disappointment broken infrequently by brief patches of golden sunlight. (Can I say that?) Now, kiddos, don't get me wrong! I am not saying I think kids shouldn't go to school, but I will say that in the 70's there were not many opportunities for kids to experience some of the wonderful, life affirming institutions available to today's youth. Schools nowadays rock. I would give my left ... earlobe, for a chance to go back in time and be nurtured by one of these schools like the one I teach in. I am also not trying to advocate parents trying to keep their kids from adversity. For crying out loud, that is one of the major problems today. Adversity makes good character. Pain creates empathy. Empathy creates kindness and equality and unity.

Another thing struck me as I gazed at this picture. I have never been in contact (knowingly) with a single person from my elementary school. I moved enough so that I am not friends with hardly anyone from any of my schools. Sad, I suppose. I have a few good friends I have kept throughout the years from each of the places I have been, but the wind has blown many away. Ah, thus is life. Blow, wind. Blow.

Can you spot me?

Hint. Whiteboy.
Hint. Bowl Cut.
Hint. Early 70's clothes.
Hint. Central location.
Hint. If you were to segment the photo into eight columns and eight rows.... you know what? If you haven't figured it out by now, I am the one with the pink dress in front.

School Visits over yonder

This time, yonder = Saint Louis.
A grand city, filled with great kids and awesome librarians.
Speaking of . . . Thanks to Carrie Dietz for the photos and for lugging our butts all around the city!

I have really been enjoying our visits. The hit-maker, Greg Neri, and I have worked into a great groove and we really have fun speaking to kids across the country.

One of my biggest treats is getting to play chess with kids.

This is Chess Rumble in action!

Some students are just learning how the pieces move, others are young assassins. I never know how a kid is gonna play until we start. At one charter school in St. Louis, there was a room full of kids asking to play but we only had time for a few quick games. So I used a question to weed out the best players and give them a shot.

Here's hoping they link up with a chess teacher or mentor along their journey.

At a library event one of the evenings, I got to play one of those young assassins I was talking about. He was on the high school chess team and I guess they are for real. We had a good game, though, as is often the case, our game was cut short by talk of pizza by the rest of our crew who weren't enjoying observing the game as much as we were enjoying playing it. (Next time, Max.)

After one of our last presentations and signings, we got to meet the artists who made these great posters for our visit. They also gave us a cool leather notebook holder, which I am now using to hold all my sketches for my upcoming book.

Peace be upon you, St. Louis.
See you next time.