January 28, 2011 Header
Joe Crawford is a web developer in Roanoke, Virginia. joe@artlung.com


As of today I have been blogging for 10 years. Here’s my first post.

I’ve had a website for 15 years now.

In that time a lot has happened. I’ve gotten divorced. I’ve gotten married. I’ve been on the radio, twice. I became a stepfather. I’ve moved several many times. I founded several blogs and websites, sold several blogs and websites; I am very proud to have created the websandiego mailing list in 1999. In 2009, my grandpa died. At the end of 2009 Leah and I moved to Roanoke. At the end of 2010, my mom died. And tomorrow Leah and I will be moving back to the west coast, with the goal of landing in San Diego.

This is my 3,518th published post. The last comment made was the 1,917th. The next one will be the 1,918th one. I also have a bunch of other stuff on this site unrelated to the blog. For example, old writing. Some popular items are here.

I would like to thank you for reading, and for being a part of this adventure in all that time. This blog started on blogger.com with no comments, and I liked it that way.

Thank you to all who have commented and materially improved my life by reaching out by comment, email, twitter, and phone.

I remain mostly engaged with grief these days, but I’m coming out of it in the course of time.

Thanks, and, onward.

Sat. Sketch.

This morning I was playing around with Brushes App on an iPod Touch. I just found out that the Brushes Viewer can export existing drawings at higher resolution, or even a stroke-by-stroke video. Play it below or watch it on Vimeo: Sat. Sketch..

Sat. Sketch.

I cried when these people died.

Which is to say, I cried when the following people who I never met in my life died. I’ve been thinking about this for about a week and this is my list:

Stanley Kubrick.
Andy Warhol.

It’s a shorter list than I would have thought. I can’t remember specifically crying when any politicians died. For some reason I vividly remember Anwar Sadat‘s assassination, possibly because I watched it live on television (old-fashioned 3-network television). I also remember the killing of Benigno Aquino, because of my keen interest in the dissolution of the Marcos dictatorship, which we lived under for a few years. I was 13 years old and interested in politics, and the brazenness of the killing shocked me.

I may have cried when I heard about Challenger exploding. I was 16, and I think I was at work at Citizen’s Western Bank, after school when I found out. But I’m not sure how that is possible as it happened in the early morning on a Tuesday in January. Could Uni High have been out of school that day for me?

I don’t remember crying about the incidents of September 11th, 2001. I remember feeling profound and intense nausea and unease, but that’s not the same thing. In contrast, when I watch the film United 93, I always cry. I don’t think that film is much of a melodrama–designed to provoke an emotional response–but the events are so harrowing, and the way it puts you into that context is intense, and so, crying.

I’ve been stunned, dumbfounded by the deaths of real people I found out about after the fact. My life post-dates the assassinations of the 1960s. I’ve cried at movies about the deaths of people, but that’s at a remove. I cry during the film Gandhi fairly reliably. I cried during the recent film Another Year, there’s a funeral sequence there that evokes the deaths of my grandfather Joe and my mother Phyllis and suddenly I’m crying. But that’s sort of a proxy, I’m projecting my own experience into the fiction onscreen. I can mourn JFK, RFK, and MLK, despite the fact that I was born after the 1960s. In fiction, I do tend to cry when huge-scale disasters, particularly nuclear war happen.

I’m an American male, and perhaps I’m wrong to use crying as a measure of emotional impact. There is a cultural taboo against excessive crying, I think. The past few months are an anomaly, the death of my Mom has clearly evoked more crying than I remember, ever. My father says that he does not remember me or my sister crying much. My mother told the story of my grandfather, her father, being worried about me as an infant because I didn’t cry much. My grandpa was in a position to observe me quite a bit because my mother and I lived with my maternal grandparents for some time when I was first born, as my father was serving as a corpsman in Vietnam.

So why Kubrick and Warhol? Why did their deaths impact me so much that I cried? I vividly remember driving through Marina del Rey and hearing about Kubrick and instantly crying. I think it was because of the impact of 2001: A Space Odyssey , really. Kubrick operated at a level that I aspired to. It was the same with Warhol–I felt like I understood his character–peculiar, quixotic, but a kind of genius. And I suppose I was crying because their aesthetic choices, their iconoclasm, moved me and drove me. The snuffing out of the universe of possibilities they represented was a great loss.

As I’ve learned more concretely about loss and grief, I’m moved to consider what the deaths of strangers can mean. The death of hopes for the future is a huge component. I wanted to see what Warhol would do next. He was delightfully unpredictable. Kubrick too, was incredible at defying expectations and creating works that surprised. I suppose it’s selfish in a way that my crying was not primarily about the loss of the person himself, the incredible impact of a death on their family and friends–it was for myself, and not being able to view the world through their future works of art.

Reading on the web

Back in November I talked about using my Mom’s old iPod Touch.

In 2009 I got a second generation Kindle as a gift for my birthday (I asked for it) and that got me reading a bit more, but not as much as I thought it was.

I’m an avid Podcast listener, and I kept hearing people mention Instapaper. Around the same time as MAS talked about it (Using Instapaper for Web Legibility) I acquired the app for the iPod touch. I’ve found much the same thing: so many websites have become laden with ads and sidebars and nonsense that it’s hard to simply read. The computer is losing as a place for quality reading experiences. The rise of phones and tablets and e-readers shows us this. The form factor is better–more portable.

Reading at length requires focus. Computers don’t offer that.

What’s interesting is that there’s a flipside to distraction-free reading. Distraction-free writing. I talked about that in 2007 in a post called JDarkroom and focus.

I had never thought about the symmetry of reading and writing at length requiring focus, but it’s a moderately insightful thing.

Although the insight that things with any level of complexity might require some concentration, and so, require focus, might be a tautology.

Summarized: Instapaper is worth looking at if you like to read.

Batman, 2011

New sketch: Batman.

Reagan in a concept car.

President Ronald Reagan (born February 6, 1911) driving the GM Citation IV concept in 1984.

via New City, a blog my friend Chris and I co-curate.

Notebook Cover, 1985

YET. ANOTHER. COVER. From High School. The kid in the uniform is called “The Punk” and I have a few drawings of him. Not particularly interesting in retrospect. The backstory for The Punk was something rather like Kick-Ass. Basically, a teenage kid, trying to be a “realistic” superhero. No powers, some cool gadgets. In some versions I believe he had some electrified brass knuckles. I never wrote any actual stories, mind you. But I made lots of spot illustrations.

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