Archive for October, 2003

Train I Ride

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

Train I Ride

Had one of those little moments of self-doubt the other day. (Yep, I have them too.)

Where you wonder, just for a moment, if it would be easier to play by the rules. To accept things as they are. To seek comfort before meaning. To accept, and be an apologist for Things as They Are.

A little difficult to fit in, here in Siem Reap. I’m a foreigner, already a weird minority. Even if I tried to fit the rank and file of English teachers or nonprofit workers, I still come off like a Martian to people from the deep countryside. And I’d still come home to a crocodile farm at my doorstep.

I could go ‘home’ to USA. Living with my family would be an imposition, and LA under Schwarzenegger (‘the Gropinator’) has as much appeal as dental surgery. I’d have to move to something new, not back to the familiar.

Then there’s Australia. Half a decade has passed since 53 Hunter Street.

I went back in 2002, and caught up a bit.

Malvern Stars are now Braddock Coalition, shifting to books and magazines from tiny small press. Musicman created a virtual memorial to his sharehouse, just up the road. Mandy published a book and has another on the way. Kirrily and lots more went back to art school. Amber wrangled some arty jobs, published an anthology and had a kid. Laura Panic returned from youth festival burnout to rock the house. Tim moved to New Zealand, where his girlfriend lets him draw all day. Shags is a full-time graphic designer. The Pox Girls live out in the countryside.

The community is still there but we’re not fresh faced kids anymore. I couldn’t return and reprise my role if I wanted to. Even though I’ve been marked deeper than any tattoo by my travels.

Our relationship with the scene changes over time. People leave, people change, people grow. Factsheet Five’s Mike Gunderloy dropped out of zinedom to live on a farm. Pete Ashton did the same for a while. Mike and Carla Sinclair of Boing-Boing moved to the Pacific; their former fringe zine is now a top-ranked blog. Stratu turned to Jesus. Dougo left Cave Clan. John Porcellino is still pumping out King –Cat. Jeff ‘Destroy All Comics’ Levine, now stripblogging. Webcomix pioneer Jesse Reklaw still weekly, now published and syndicated.

The travel bug hit me later than I thought it was possible. I think of places like Dunedin, with Tony Renouf ecstatically extolling its virtues. Late nights and anggur putih in Yogyakarta, where everyone’s a secret friend you have yet to meet. Cold, bright Hobart’s gothic secrets and surprises around every corner. Maybe candidate spots for retirement. I always had plans. And they’re not half finished.

Landmines, blood-sucking leeches, wanna-be gangsters, pollution, crappy food, stultifying bureaucracy, indifference: throw it all at me. I’ll have it for breakfast.

There is no way back. It doesn’t exist. Maybe the good times weren’t always that great. Or maybe they’re just a hint of the fun on the road ahead.

Either way, that’s where I’m going.


If you’re tired of Tintin you’re tired of life

Friday, October 17th, 2003

If you’re tired of Tintin you’re tired of life.

Thomas Pynchon Essay.



Thursday, October 16th, 2003

Battambang! (again) details my recent trip there. Still some more to write up.

Here’s a new Cambodia comic by Simon Hureau, ‘Palaces’

In response to a comment that there’s a lot of French interest in comics, our New Zealand correspondent writes: “Those wacky French, just make sure to guard the local Greenpeace

.” (Would that we had a Greenpeace office in Cambodia.) The forests are being cut to pieces, the local forestry monitor (Global Witness) has been kicked out, and there still is no indigenous paper production here. They’re cutting down the forests, but all books here are printed on imported paper and ink. Something’s wrong here.

Call for submissions, Chain 11.


San Francisco!

Saturday, October 11th, 2003

San Francisco! Philly!

Indonesia Art & Culture at Intersection for the Arts 446 Valencia (btwn 15/16) Mission District SF (415) 626-2787 |

Come by and meet traveling members of Apotik Komik.

From Megan Wilson:

Apotik is in Philadelphia from Oct 16 to Oct 27th.

Also they have participated in painting Rainbow Grocery and The Street at 509 Cultural Center in SF.

New Apotik Komik interview.

Also from SF, new Lark Pien interview at Silver Bullet Comic Books.



Friday, October 10th, 2003


Below: news about ‘Ghettopoly’– a version of monopoly using all the icons mass media associates with lower income communities. Not surprisingly, this has spurred attention and criticism.

Black Clergy Leaders Outraged at ‘Ghettopoly’ Game at Urban Outfitters

Ticked off in Philly

Ghettopoly: Is It A Racist, Offensive Game?

Ghettopoly Criticized by NAACP

If you’re living in a lower income community, you are indeed trapped in a game. I picked up on some of the rules while grant writing for Cambodian Associations in the States.

No bank account? Pay extra money to cash your welfare or pay check. Not paying utilities on time? Dinged with a late fee. Maybe you’ve got a long commute to where the jobs are. That eliminates your chances of getting a part time job.

Banks ‘red-line’ areas as too risky to give loans. I once read a micro-lending expert calling this ‘structural violence’.

Sure, the images of uzis and 40 ouncers are mediagenic, but denying somebody the chance to buy their own home can destroy dreams and communities. But somehow a bank interview is less exciting than the drama of gangs and guns.

Ghettopoly is a childish idea. But someone needs to create a game that shows the real rules we’re playing by.

Food for thought: Atlantic City, where Monopoly takes its names from – how well are those areas doing in the present day? A lot of them have lost their value.

Maybe having a monopoly ain’t the best way for everyone to win.

Click below for something a little more constructive. (Thanks to Ricko for the tip!)

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As for those of you who are lookin’ for the comics, more on the front page soon.