Gonzo Illustrator Ralph Steadman Draws the American Presidents, from Nixon to Trump

In a 2012 interview with National Public Radio, cartoonist Ralph Steadman, best known for his collaborations with Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, lamented the quality of the candidates in that year’s Presidential race:

The problem is there are no Nixons around at the moment. That’s what we need — we need a real good Nixon to give something for other people to get their teeth into, to really ... loathe him, to become themselves more effective as opposition leaders.

Alas, his prayers have been answered.

Steadman, who has brought his inky sensibilities to bear on such works as Animal Farm and Alice in Wonderland, has a new American president to add to the collection he discussed several years ago, in the video above.




Steadman’s pen was the sword that rendered Gerald Ford as a scarecrow, Ronald Reagan as a vampire, and George W. Bush as a monkey in a cage of his own making.

Barack Obama, one of the candidates in that comparatively bland 2012 election, is depicted as a tenacious, slender vine, straining ever upward.

Jimmy Carter, somewhat less benignly, is a puppy eagerly fetching a stick with which to pardon Nixon, the Welsh cartoonist’s dark muse, first encountered when he accompanied Thompson on the road trip that yielded Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72.

And now…

Donald Trump has given Steadman reason to come out fighting. With luck, he'll stay out as long as his services are required. The above portrait, titled “Porky Pie,” was sent, unsolicited, to Gerry Brakus, an editor of the New Statesman, who published it on December 17, 2015.

At the time, Steadman had no reason to believe the man he’d anthropomorphized as a human pig hybrid, squeezed into bloody flag-print underpants, would become the 45th president:

Trump is unthinkable. A thug and a molester. Who wants him?

The portrait's hideousness speaks volumes, but it’s also worth looking beyond the obvious-seeming inspiration for the title to a reference few Americans would get. "Pork pie"—or porky—is Cockney rhyming slang for “a lie.”

See a gallery of Steadman’s portraits of American presidents on his website.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday

Artists Put a Hidden Message in Their Letter Resigning from President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities

It wasn't the most high profile mass resignation of last week. (The CEOs on Trump's business advisory councils got that distinction.) But it was arguably the most creative one. Last Friday, "all 16 of the prominent artists, authors, performers and architects on the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities resigned," reports The New York Times. And while their resignation letter didn't mince words (read it online here), it did take the added step of encoding in its text a short message for POTUS. Circle the first letter of each paragraph and what do you get? RESIST, the mantra of 2017.

In other related news, the administration announced that Trump will skip the annual Kennedy Center Honors this year--just the fourth time that a president has missed this annual national celebration of the arts. This year's honorees include Gloria Estefan, LL COOL J, Norman Lear, Lionel Richie, and Carmen de Lavallade.

via Boing Boing/Artnet

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People Are Planting Flowers in Potholes Worldwide: See the Creative Protest Taking Place in Montreal, Ukraine & Beyond

In 2015, Paige Breithart, an artist and student living in Hamtramck, Michigan, had grown tired of the countless potholes marring Hamtramck's streets. So she took matters into her own hands, and drove around town, filling the potholes with flowers, replacing the decay with symbols of growth and beauty. The story went viral, and Breithart's aesthetic treatment has since caught on. Look around Twitter, and you'll find stories about flowers filling potholes around the United States, and indeed around the world.

In some cases, these guerilla projects aren't just decorative, a simple way to spruce up a neighborhood. There's an activist element to them. In Bath, England, one flower pot vigilante said:

In an area of America there were a load of potholes filled in with pot plants, although that’s not what we are doing here. We think it’s a good thing to do but it’s more than about making people smile. Potholes are a real problem and have the potential to be death traps for bikers and cyclists and with cars there is an issue with blow-outs to wheels. The whole point is to raise awareness of them.

And local governments are taking notice, though not always happily. Concerned that drivers might get surprised or distracted by flowers suddenly appearing in the middle of a road, politicians are discouraging this form of protest. But you can't argue with the results. Once protesters call attention to them, the potholes have a magical way of getting properly paved and filled. Quickly.

Below you can see a gallery of potholes around the world that have gotten the flower treatment--from Missoula, Montana, to Montreal, Bath, Bosnia and Ukraine. Maybe the artist from Chicago (see image at bottom) is the one who got it right?

Wetzel County, West Virginia

 

Missoula, Montana

 

Montreal, Canada

 

Corner Brook, Canada

 

Bath, England

 

Berwickshire, Scotland

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Ukraine

 

Bosnia

 

Chicago

via Twisted Sifter/My Modern Met

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Stephen Fry Identifies the Cognitive Biases That Make Trump Tick

Months after the election, much of the electorate is still trying to figure out what makes Trump/Trumpism tick. Everyone has a theory--frankly too many theories to rehearse right here. But we'll give you the take of Stephen Fry, a regular presence on our site.

In the animated clip above from Pindex, Fry attributes the Trump's political ascendance and style to three cognitive biases, or three deviations from rational judgment, which lead people to draw illogical conclusions about other people or situations. They are, as follows:

At minimum, Fry's primer offers a quick introduction to the world of cognitive biases and their social impact. At most, it makes some sense of America's unexpected detour into Trumpism. I suspect that Fry's speculations only scratch the surface of a much more complicated answer--an answer that historians can sort out in the decades to come. And Fry's solutions--the ways he suggests combatting these cognitive biases--will need some more expert analysis too.

For anyone interested, the video below highlights 12 cognitive biases we regularly encounter in our daily lives:

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Frederick Douglass’s Fiery 1852 Speech, “The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro,” Read by James Earl Jones

Every year on this day, Frederick Douglass’s fiery, uncompromising 1852 speech, “The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro,” gets a new hearing, and takes on added resonance in the context of contemporary politics. It has never ceased to speak directly to those for whom the celebrations can seem like a hollow mockery of freedom and independence. The American holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence—next to the Constitution, the U.S.A.’s most cherished founding document, and a text, for all its rhetorical elegance, which cannot escape the irony that it was written by a slaveholder for an emerging slave nation.

Slavery had always been a contentious subject among the colonists. And yet the American Revolution was a war waged for the full freedom and enfranchisement of only a very few white men of property. Not only were black people excluded from the nation’s freedoms, but so too were conquered Native American nations, and in great part, poor white men and women who could not vote—though they were not chained in perpetual servitude as human chattel, with little hope of liberty for themselves or their descendants.




Douglass gave the speech in Rochester, NY, seventy-six years after the first July 4th and at a time when the country was riven with irreconcilable tensions between abolitionists, free-soilers, and the slaveholding South. The Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act—at least, in hindsight—made the impending Civil War all but inevitable. The speech reveals the celebration as a sham for those who were or had been enslaved, and who could not consider themselves American citizens regardless of their status (as Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney would affirm five years later.)

Just above, you can hear a powerful reading of Douglass’s speech by James Earl Jones, delivered as part of Howard Zinn’s Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Read an excerpt of the speech below.

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

Douglass’s speech condemned the “scorching irony” of American independence even after the Civil War, as racist terrorism and Jim Crow destroyed the promise of Reconstruction. In our present time, writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor Isabel Wilkerson, amidst the rash of high profile police killings and an ensuing lack of justice, events “have forced us to confront our place in a country where we were enslaved for far longer than we have been free. Forced us to face the dispiriting erosion that we have witnessed in recent years—from the birther assaults on a sitting black president to the gutting of the Voting Rights Act that we had believed was carved in granite.” We might add to this list the resumption of the failed "War on Drugs" and the federal government's announcements that it would do little to safeguard civil rights nor to investigate and prosecute the surge of white supremacist violence.

And yet the "self evident" mythology of American freedom and equality—and of American innocence—remains potent and seductive to many people in the country. As the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute put it a few days ago, “The birth of the United States was unique because it was a nation founded not on blood or ethnicity, but on ideas.” To this ahistorical fiction, which manages to erase the founders' own statements on race, the colonization of indigenous lands, and even the bloody Revolutionary War in its strangely desperate zeal to sweep the past away, Douglass would reply: “The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and the crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”

Hear other readings of the speech by Morgan Freeman, here, and by Danny Glover, here.

via Boing Boing

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Set List for the Band Playing at Trump’s Climate Retreat Speech: From “It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” to “Burning Down the House”

Today the United States joined two other countries in refusing to take part in the Paris climate accord. Syria and Nicaragua. What great company to be in.

Before Trump made his announcement in the Rose Garden, the White House had a band warm up the crowd. Later, McSweeney's sarcastically published their setlist. Burning Down the House. It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine). I Melt With You. Coal Miner's Daughter. Find all 14 tracks below.

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Animations Show the Melting Arctic Sea Ice, and What the Earth Would Look Like When All of the Ice Melts

It's no secret that climate change has been taking a toll on the Arctic. But it's one thing to read about it, another thing to see it in action. Above you can watch an animation narrated by NASA's cryospheric scientist Dr. Walt Meier. Documenting changes between 1984 and 2016, the animation lets you see the Arctic sea ice shrinking. As the important perennial sea ice diminishes, the remaining ice cover "almost looks gelatinous as it pulses through the seasons." For anyone interested, an updated version of this visualization can be downloaded in HD here.

If you're curious what this could all lead to--well, you can also watch a harrowing video that models what would happen when all the ice melts and the seas rise some 216 feet. It isn't pretty. The video below is based on the 2013 National Geographic story, "What the World Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted."

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