...in fact, the Ornetteathon was so exhausting that I seem to have not even finished the entry about it, thus making it look like I simply haven't updated the site for a week. And ending with a semicolon: that's tiredness at work, all right. But I'm back now! And I've got over 500 emails in my inbox, including one offering to "trace the BLOODBATH family tree!"

Where I'm back from is the San Diego Comicon, which was... an experience. I'm going to be writing about the business/graphic-novels side for PW shortly, but there were so many other things going on there. Particular memories:

*Having dinner (and then drinks) with Grant Morrison. Best quote from him (and you're going to have to imagine this in his thick Scots accent, and bear in mind that he looks precisely like King Mob from The Invisibles): "The whole last storyline I did in JLA was just me metaphorizin' my depression, and sayin': 'Superman: help me! Batman: help me!'" He went on to explain how the entire universe is actually one huge wormlike organism. It was great.

*The people who do Star Wars action figures had set up a gigantic action-figure "blister pack"--big enough for a person to stand inside--and supplied light-sabres and big fancy Star Wars guns for people to brandish in them. A beautiful idea.

*There was the (reportedly traditional) beach party Saturday night--a bonfire (one of many bonfires that night--it took us a while to find the right one, and we briefly considered yelling "EXCELSIOR!!" really loudly and seeing who responded, but finally we spotted somebody in a Superman T-shirt) with 50 or 60 people from the independent comics community. Early on in the party, a scary bald guy with a bleeding cut on his forehead who'd been hanging out in the parking lot asking for cigarettes in a rather unnerving way came up to us and threw his bicycle into our bonfire. "Um, guy, that's not really going to burn nicely," we said, and pulled it out. "Fuckin' bike tried to kill me!" he yelled. Then he threw a wooden beach chair into the bonfire, and we let that burn while one of Meredith's friends talked to him for a little while and eventually persuaded him that there was probably something interesting going on a couple of miles down the coastline, and maybe he should go check it out. Later, Scott McCloud showed up, and someone introduced me to him as "the Pauline Kael of comics"--that particular line seems to have stuck, and I'm not unhappy about it. "What would I be?" McCloud asked? "You," I said, pointing a finger at him, "are the Ludwig Wittgenstein of comics!" Later still, there was mass skinny-dipping in the Pacific Ocean. Hooray for naked cartoonists.

*Jordan Crane had made a series of five astonishing silkscreened prints (large-scale), which he was selling individually for $20 or as a set for $70: each in variations of a single color, each with a person looking shocked and terrified and surrounded by water, fire, a landslide, a tornado and broken thin ice (respectively). Those are incredible, I thought, but where would one display them? Then Mer bought one, of course.

*My floor of my hotel (the U.S. Grant) hosted a drag queen convention--apparently it's an annual ball where the San Diego tranny community elects its leaders, and the Queen of Queens, and they're all dressed mighty regally (and accompanied by men in tuxedos). Wow. Really really really wish I'd brought a camera.

*There actually is some pretty excellent cheap vegetarian food available in San Diego (though not at the convention center, where a Krispy Kreme is $3.25). Maya took me to Ki's for splendid stir-fry, then to the record store where she always used to shop (and I bought a Pharoah Sanders album and made her buy a Fairport Convention album), then to her parents' "Barbie dream house": a pristine mansion with marble floors in its foyer, the single biggest television set I've ever seen, and otherwise virtually nothing but capacious whiteness: lushly carpeted empty rooms with perhaps one piece of furniture and maybe one framed Chagall print or something on the wall. Where is the SOFTWARE?!?, I asked her. She showed me one room that had a few books, and also her own room, and I felt a little better. The next day, my new pal Fumiko from Newtype took me and Mer to a Japanese place right down the street from my hotel, where I got an immense delicious veggie bento box for just over five bucks.

*The Eisner awards were pleasant if not spectacular (a lot of the people I wanted to win didn't), but it was really, really nice to see all those old men who thought nobody would ever recognize their work shuffling up to the stage to accept their lifetime achievement plaques.

*This year's fans-vs.-pros trivia contest was put together by Beat the Geeks, and of course the comics pros' team thrashed the geeks, because it included Mark Waid, the Edwin Moses of comics trivia. Sample exchange: MC: "Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed! In the Adam West Batman TV series--" BZZZT. Waid: "Fourteen miles." MC: "That is correct!"

*Best comics I found (well, among the ones I've read so far): the new issue of Amy Unbounded, #13, which is a delight; the new Luba; Carla Speed McNeil's not-quite-there-like-Finder-is-there-but-mighty-entertaining Mystery Date; and a 1970 (all-reprint) issue of Strange Adventures, with the magnificent cover caption "Of the eight nations possessing H-Bombs in the year 1986... WHO will trigger WORLD WAR 3?" superimposed on a mushroom cloud. The eight nations (whose leaders appear in little inset panels), incidentally, are America, China, England, France, Israel, Russia, Africa, and Arab Republic (sic and sic). The answer, incidentally (according to the Atomic Knights story inside), is none of the above: it was subterranean mole-creatures who wanted to take over the surface of the planet.

I've gotten a couple more advice questions--thank you! keep 'em coming! One today, one... probably Tuesday, since tomorrow's Lisa's & my anniversary...

I am planning on moving to New York in the next year. My question is this: what is the best affordable area to live in? Sure, it would be great to live in the East Village or Lower East Side or Williamsburg, but that's just not practical at this point in time. What neighborhoods would you suggest where A) the rent is reasonable ($800-$1,000 for a studio/one-bedroom), and B) the neighborhood has good things to offer in terms of restaurants, people, activities, etc. and is a nice place to live? I've seen the outer parts of Brooklyn, and while I'm sure they're affordable, they don't look like the type of neighborhoods a single twentysomething guy would want to live in.

The problem here is that cool drives out cheap very quickly--especially when landlords catch on that they can replace a couple of ceiling tiles, fix the radiator, claim they've renovated, and jack up the rent. My friends are sick of hearing me say this to them, but: I live in the Hunters Point area of Long Island City (which is actually the part of Queens closest to midtown Manhattan), I've lived here for ten and a half years, and I love it. There aren't many e.g. great rock clubs you can walk to, and the good restaurants are not too thick on the ground either (although that's changing), but it's pleasant, it's very convenient to Manhattan, it's safe, and it's relatively cheap. (My specific neighborhood is not so cheap any more, partly thanks to the presence of my building, but you can easily find something a little north of here that's not so bad.)

If you want an actual hipster neighborhood, you're going to have to a) pony up and/or b) get a roommate, and probably several. Of the various places where there are high concentrations of single twentysomething persons who probably wouldn't run screaming from lacunae, you might do best in Greenpoint--try the heavily Polish neighborhoods, maybe.

My advice to anyone looking for a place to live in NYC, though, is: do not use a broker if you can possibly help it, unless you like swishing your money around in the sink until it dissolves into wood pulp. Use craigslist, use the ads in the back of the Voice, use anyone you know here who might know of places opening up. And certainly stick up posters in the neighborhood where you want to live, describing what you want and what you're willing to pay. There's always a way to avoid the brokers and their fees--you may just have to be a little patient, though.



previously ask for advice