I've got to prep for a work planning meeting in a couple of hours (I know I've mentioned that I do this with friends -- it's hugely helpful, and this one's particularly charged and important to me), but I would feel derelict in my bloggerly duties if I didn't report that Alison Bechdel made a post this morning
which includes both a link to a video of one of her highly entertaining presentations about The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
and a picture of Alison and me at her talk last night.
We met for tea before the talk. Alison didn't spot The Haymarket, although she did see my parked trike. I went out to stand by it as landmark, and there she was, was rushing down the main street of Northampton carrying a full, heavy case of some kind of soda pop that she had promised a reader of her blog who had won a contest there. She had lugged it all of the way from the hotel, and if that's not way beyond the call of bloggerly duty (and probably my first inkling of such a concept in the first place), I don't know what is.
I stayed up way too late reading (in most cases rereading) the Dykes To Watch Out For
strips in the anthology. Doing that makes me feel like I'm inhaling clove cigarettes and patchouli in the backseat of a small car on the way to the Women's Peace Encampment and/or the Marquee (name your nostalgia dyke bar -- the Duchess definitely works, too, or the Globe, or, way, way back -- the Apartment). It's just so wild, that Alison's eye and her artist's obsessiveness and her wit caught so much detail (right now I'm looking at panel of Lois spraying Windex to polish the bookstore's display case of crystals and goddess figures and labryses -- God, she's got it down to the credit card sign and the pen jar with joined women's symbols next to the cash register) of these worlds that really are pretty much gone. It just nails formerly obscure mileaux that I spent a lot of time in, too. (And nails the wood grain on the play structure when Clarice and Toni move on out to the suburbs, too.) It's trippy. The strip and the books were/are there in real time, too, in the past, in the present. The artist's introduction raises questions about the effects of all of this observation, and there's plenty to mull over, but yeah, no, to me, despite the "nailed it" thing, this is not a case of a butterfly pinned (thereby killed) and preserved for better, more meticulous observation, but, because this is art, there is heat and mystery alive here, there just is, rising from a heightened, expansive dyke quotidian. And yeah, that turns out to be a heightened, expansive human quotidian. It kind of had to turn out that way, and part of the trick of both this work and negotiating the weird melting edges of identity through time is both the inescapable awareness of that, and the insistence of the particulars.
PS Holly Rae Taylor, who is Alison's girlfriend, took the picture. Check out her new website: Waste Free Living