I drew these turkeys to be used as part of a t-shirt design for a friend’s restaurant. I’ve waited a week and haven’t heard whether any of ’em struck his fancy. I asked whether they weren’t cartoonish enough for his purposes, but he hasn’t answered either way.

Waiting on email response is one of my least favorite aspects of our current way of life. I don’t like the thoughts which settle into my head and eat away at my equilibrium in that purgatory time while my correspondent takes their time to answer. I think uncharitable thoughts about them and about myself as well. No one is spared. I’ve often wished there was an auto bounce-back feature built into unanswered email. Say if it sits in someone’s inbox a day, you get a message that it’s been ignored and it self-destructs. That way you’re free to weigh your options rather than waver in limbo for days/weeks/years before finally throwing up your hands in despair and giving up.

Last week I finished reading two very different autobiographies. The first was R.B. Kitaj’s posthumously published Confessions of an Old Jewish Painter, which annoyed me to no end. Imagine making a good living off painting straight out of art school, being collected by museums, which also organize retrospectives of your work, being friends with Philip Roth, David Hockney, and many other genius-level characters, bedding beautiful women left and right, yet writing a three-hundred-page kvetch about being hated and misunderstood. Prior to reading this book I didn’t even know the man was Jewish, but I’ll never forget the fact now, since he mentions it on every damn page. And yet, even though he uses the word ‘Jewish’ thousands of times, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what makes Kitaj’s paintings particularly Jewish. He’s no Chagall. That, at least, is to his credit.

The second book was Bud Smith’s Work. It is pretty much the polar opposite of Kitaj’s. It is unpretentious, humble in simply trying to tell of a workaday life. He describes working construction and at power plants, writing on his phone on lunch breaks. It’s inspiring. 

I wonder whether there’s much crossover between the readership of these two books. I don’t know who would enjoy Kitaj’s book. His collectors maybe? Those like me, hoping for anecdotes of a richly lived life filled with interesting personalities will be bitterly disappointed. It’s also an expensive book full of full-color reproductions of Kitaj’s shitty paintings. One of the most irritating things is his repeated boast of being one of the best Jewish artists who ever lived. I don’t know why anyone would make such a list, but if they did, he’d be nowhere near it.

Smith’s book was published by a small indie press and he’s got a reputation in that cloistered world. But I don’t know if anyone outside it has heard of him. They should.

Now I’m on to Chris Ware’s epic Monograph. More on that one later, but suffice it to say, he’s no turkey. Neither is Bud Smith. Just old R.B. And these ones I drew. Standing around, waiting to find out if they’re wanted or needed.