I’ve been trying as best I can to stay away from the computer for the last couple of days on account of a Star War happening in the very near future, a Star War that I would prefer to go into knowing nothing about. You may recall my review of The Force Awakens; yes, you can expect a similarly exhaustive post about Last Jedi once I’ve had a chance to digest it.
In the meantime, appreciate this fucking tour de force from Black Thought, who is an insane magical marvel of lyricism and breath control. This man apparently takes in oxygen through his skin:
Last week– seven to ten days ago, if I’m being precise– a sweet elderly lady and what I can only assume was her grandson came into the store. Grandma spent some time looking around and purchased a single barstool from me. She was unusually happy about it, proclaiming it “perfect” for her needs. Her grandson, who was perhaps seventeen, did not say a single word during the entire time I was observing the two of them. In fact, he did not look up from his gaming device– a Game Boy Advance SP, I’m pretty sure, despite that system’s advanced age– a single time. He, in fact, shuffled a few feet behind her the entire time she was in the store, neither speaking, looking around, or interacting with anything. It was as if she had some sort of robot following her and not a human being. She never spoke to him either. He wouldn’t have heard her, I assume, as he also had big, beefy headphones on, which were attached to the system.
She came back yesterday to pick up her barstool, and this time had both her grandson and (again, I’m assuming) her daughter with her. Her grandson this time stared at his phone the entire time he was in the store, interacting with neither his mom nor his grandmother, and again he had his headphones on.
I went back and got her barstool out of the warehouse and brought it to the front of the store. “Want me to carry that out for you?” I asked, assuming that she would say no and that the grandson– or, at the very least, the daughter– would carry the stool rather than the elderly lady. She said she didn’t need me to and I had her sign her paperwork and then watched in no small amount of shock as the old lady picked up the barstool and left the store, her worthless progeny trailing along behind her. One of my warehouse guys was standing next to me at the time.
“I asked her if she wanted to carry it,” I said. “You heard me say that, right? I didn’t imagine it?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I kinda wanna smack that kid.”
“Maybe he’s autistic,” I said, and then wondered what the hell is going on that this kid being severely autistic– because I know plenty of kids with autism for whom “carry shit for your grandma” is still an ingrained behavior, so it’s got to be way down on the spectrum– is the best of the available outcomes.
A few minutes later, I had reason to get something from my car. And then helped the old lady put the barstool into the trunk of her car, as her daughter and grandson sat in the vehicle and waited for her to be done.
I don’t really have strong feelings about screen time, but I feel like I should have strong feelings about screen time, if that makes any sense. After dinner tonight I asked my wife if she had any recollection of what she might have been doing just after dinner when she was six. Her father would likely be watching TV, she decided, and she’d either be watching with him or playing, and her mom would be watching the dishes. So let’s call that one and a half people staring at a device. When I asked the question, she and I were still sitting at the dining table fiddling with our phones, and the boy was in the living room watching some godawful YouTube video where someone opens packages of something. If I hadn’t been staring at my phone, I’d likely have either had a book in my hand or the laptop I’m typing on right now in front of me. Or, since I’ve decided that the ridiculously named Horizon Zero Dawn isn’t violent enough to hide it from my son, maybe playing that.
We have all sorts of evenings where each of us is staring at his or her own device– well, the one the boy uses is mine, but you get the idea– or where we’re all watching the TV. That’s not what bugs me. What bugs me is that I really can’t think of what the hell else we might be doing.
The news hit earlier this week: that Brian Michael Bendis had signed an exclusivity contract with DC Comics. This news probably means precisely nothing to you unless you’re a fairly hardcore comics person; if you aren’t such a person feel free to skip this post entirely as it will hold little relevance to you.
For me, it was really Goddamned bad news. Now, to be perfectly clear: I don’t begrudge Bendis a single dime of the no-doubt enormous check DC has written him for this; the man has the unquestioned right to do whatever he wants with his career. He doesn’t have to ask me shit, and he doesn’t owe me anything. But as Bendis has become, for me, the definitive Spider-Man writer over the seventeen years he’s been writing the character, and as he invented Miles Morales, who for me is now a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was, and as he’s also currently writing both Jessica Jones, which I love, and Iron Man, who is my favorite comic book character of all time… well, the news that he wasn’t going to be writing any of those books anymore is insanely Goddamned depressing. I’ve been reading Iron Man since I was nine. He’s had a lot of writers during that time. Jessica Jones is great but I can live without it. But the idea that I won’t be able to read any more of Bendis writing Miles is deeply upsetting.
I mean, I’ll get over it. I’m sure whatever he ends up doing at DC is going to be pretty awesome. But… shit.
So anyway, I went to the comic shop on Wednesday, as I do. And I (no doubt as 90% of his customers for the day had done) asked the owner (who, by the way, is the cover artist for Skylights) what he thought of the news, and we got into a brief conversation about it. Now, Casey pulls my books for me every week, and it’s literally his job to know the tastes of the various people who frequent his store, so he knows good and well I’m a fan. And I’m reasonably sure he is as well.
This dude comes up behind me while we’re talking. This isn’t unusual, mind you; I’m at the counter, so “behind me” is the place where other people who want comics will naturally end up. And I hear him mumble under his breath:
“Yeah, maybe Marvel will finally start getting good again.”
I glance at him and don’t respond, opting to continue my conversation with Casey, who gets a very brief pained expression on his face and then also moves on. I’ve seen this guy in the store plenty of times before, and as much as my physical appearance screams Comic Book Guy to most normals this guy has me beat by at least a few levels. Anyway, we conclude– I’m not enough of a dick, and Casey is too much of a professional, for either of us to monopolize the counter when there are people waiting.
“See you next week,” I say, as I damn near always do, and I head for the door. And then this guy starts in on Casey.
“Yeah, he’ll probably end up getting Justice League, and then he’ll make Batman gay, and Superman black, and who knows what else he’s going to ruin…”
…and it hits me. Bendis is married to a black woman, right? His kids are biracial. He was pretty explicit that he created Miles Morales because he thinks (correctly) his kids need superheroes to look up to. And not for nothing, the person running around in red and gold armor in the Marvel universe right now is a black teenage girl named Riri Williams:
Holy shit. This guy is one of those fuckers who thinks Marvel screwed up comic books by getting too much brown in them. One of those stupid, stupid bastards. Right here! Right in front of me! Trying to argue with me, in fact! Or at least inflict his stupid opinion on the guy who owns the comic shop, somebody who by definition really can’t argue back, after making at least a halfassed attempt to insert himself into our conversation and being rebuffed.
Most of this is unfolding in my head as I’m walking to my car. And I resist the urge to go back into the store and start some shit, because part of me thinks that this type of racist asshole needs to be made unwelcome everywhere he goes all the time forever and ever, but the rest of me really doesn’t want to start a row inside this guy’s comic shop.
That said? Next time I see Casey, I’m asking him for permission.