Wednesday, July 5, 2006

DEBATE AT LOLITA BAR: "Should Superheroes Have to Register with the Government?"

The day after the U.S. celebrates its birth, join us for a debate on a question that touches on fundamental issues of liberty and security in the aftermath of a crisis, whether the government should gaze through a scanner darkly at Superman, and whether freedom fighters should make a last stand against government even at the risk of…civil war.

Ken Silber (Scientific American Mind, Mental Floss) and Robert George (New York Post, debate the question “Should Superheroes Have to Register with the Government?” (with Michel “The Brain” Evanchik moderating and Todd Seavey hosting) at the next Jinx Athenaeum, Wednesday, July 5 at 8pm, downstairs at Lolita bar (free admission, cash bar) on the northeast corner of Broome and Allen on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, one block south and three west of the Delancey St. subway stop. (Volunteers to debate specific future topics, especially if you have a willing, serious opponent, are welcome.)

Speaking of heroes and villains, here is evidence of an axiom worth keeping in mind: my enemies eat garbage, or at least Adam Weissman, the guy who led that rival faction of anarchists I faced a couple months ago, does (in his role as a leader of the so-called “freegan” movement, which eats from dumpsters to protest our wasteful agricultural system):

P.S. Let me add that I don’t really see the world in terms of superheroes and supervillains, but I confess that until this month I was a comic book collector (I’ll still need to pick up Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers #1 in September, since it got delayed several months, but otherwise I’m kicking the habit just to save time and explore new hobbies).

But then, I have darker secrets than that: I really liked early Garfield, for instance, despite Roy Blount, Jr.’s view that anyone who likes Garfield should be forced to take a class called Minimal Understanding 101. I see from the Wikipedia entry on Garfield, by the way, that acclaimed comics writer Neil Gaiman (whose most renowned work can soon be purchased in a glorious hardcover Absolute Sandman collection, edited by Scott Nybakken) has praised a prankster who reprinted Garfield cartoons without Garfield’s thought balloons, turning the strips into a harrowing portrait of a lonely, possibly schizophrenic man named Jon who talks to his pets.

P.P.S. If comics aren’t your scene, though, here are some “real” books by some of my associates that sound like good summer reading:

Ethan Gutmann’s Losing the New China

Miranda Hickman’s The Geometry of Modernism

Tim Snyder’s Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine

Selene Castrovilla’s By The Sword (a picture book about Benjamin Tallmadge, Washington’s chief of spies, not to be confused with Alexander Rose’s Washington’s Spies)

not mention the short story “Alberto: A Case History” by science-minded fiction writer Diane Greco in the winter/spring 2006 issue of Fence, if you can find it, and of course:

Carly Sommerstein and Mark Montano’s Window Treatments and Slipcases for Dummies

And in the next year or two, as if I needed still more reasons to keep living, there’s Katherine Taylor’s novel Rules for Saying Goodbye, Daniel Radosh’s book about Christian pop culture, a book from the founders, and possibly a tome on transportation issues by Ted Balaker (whose name is close to mine in the acknowledgments in our ex-boss John Stossel’s awesome new book, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, I must add).

And though I don’t know Jim Davis, I see that his book Garfield Blots Out the Sun: His Forty-Third Book is due in early 2007. Really. (At least in the U.S. — in the UK, they reprint Garfield at a different rate and print the panels vertically — it’s like China over there, despite our apparent cultural similarities.)

P.P.P.S. Even though I’ve already seen Superman Returns (which was pretty good), I suppose there is at least one additional movie based on comics that I’ll have to see in my lifetime, and some of you will be excited to see that the trailer is already viewable here, nearly a year in advance:

And lest we think all this of little relevance to everyday life, remember these photos of hardworking Mexican immigrants dressed as superheroes, forwarded by Dawn Eden (co-founder of a monthly bar gathering of non-left media folk, for which I can put you on the invite list if you like and aren’t already):

(NOTE: The above was sent as a mass e-mail in the days prior to the debate and was posted on this blog retroactively in April 2007. Click here for other Debates at Lolita Bar.)