I’ve been drawing a new comic called I’m New Here for a local newspaper called The River Journal. They cover a bunch of towns up here in Westchester, including mine. I say up here because Westchester is north of NYC, and that’s sort of where everything is judged by around these parts. Anyway, you can see the first four strips here. There’s certainly a theme, as you can tell from the title. I grew up in an apartment in Queens so being new to the suburbs provides endless ideas. If you’re lucky enough to live in a Hudson river town, you get the printed version delivered right into your mailbox. Good times.
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This week’s Dustinland comic is about how the MTA and Metro-North just erected a 150-foot cell tower right next to a low income housing community’s playground in Tarrytown, Westchester, where I live. I don’t live in that community, but I do live close by, and I thought I was pissed when I could see this huge ugly pole out my window. I can’t imagine what these people feel like, having this thing looming over them.
I’m actually part of a grassroots movement that’s trying to get this thing moved, but I think it will be a tough fight. I’ve been looking into it and it sounds like these things go up all over the country and no one wants them but basically it’s like, tough shit, losers. But it’s at least worth fighting it. I know these things have to go somewhere, but why there? I mean, the town isn’t even getting paid! It’s on MTA property, tax free, so they can rent it out to phone service providers and keep all the profit, and we get nothing except an eyesore and maybe some radiation. Now that’s America.
Let me get into the interesting details behind this week’s Dustinland comic.
See, I drew the first half based on my daily annoyances that are pretty well spelled out in the strip. But then, after it was all done and even uploaded, this morning I listened to an episode of This American Life, which I never do on my commute, because I never do the podcast thing, always opting for music instead. And this episode, it was about a French comedian trying to make it in America. At one point Jeff Garland is critiquing his set, and just goes off. “He’s a craftsman, but he’s not an artist because I don’t care about what he’s talking about. He doesn’t care! Talk about what you care about! That’s interesting!”
And I was inspired to go deeper with this strip. Because as you can see, I do care. It’s about the principle. Not just the bag, not just the minor inconvenience. Every time this happens, I think about all this stuff, all this human nature misery. It riles me up. That’s why I care. And now you know. Thanks, Ira Glass!