Berkeley Breathed, Barry Manilow and more


Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed poses before signing copies of Mars needs moms! at Dutton’s Brentwood Books in Brentwood, Calif. on May 11, 2007. (Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

My Impromptus today begins with schools – in San Francisco and elsewhere. As you know, voters in San Francisco recalled three of their school board members, in an “overwhelming decision”, as the San Francisco Chronicle Put the. The chairman of the city’s board of supervisors had an astonishing response to the recall. He said it was run by “hidden Republicans and most definitely people with conservative values ​​in San Francisco, even if they weren’t registered Republicans.”

There is enough material in these few words for several columns.

In today’s Impromptus I also discuss lockdowns, the Olympics, Prince Andrew, MTG, GOP, QE2 (the woman, not the ship), Josh Hawley and PJ O’Rourke .

A reader writes,

PJ has long been one of my favorite writers and he will be sorely missed. Several years ago we met at a conference or another, shook hands and had a brief conversation. He was all smiles, with a twinkle in his eyes and a face that showed a hard life.

I will miss PJ

In New Zealand, authorities tried to disperse protesters by sending them songs by Barry Manilow. The protesters responded by playing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister. I talked about it in an Impromptus earlier this week.

A reader remembers – and, in fact, dug up – a cartoon made in the mid-1980s. Bloom Countywhich features, yes, Barry Manilow and Twisted Sister, and the idea of ​​tormenting people through song.

In 2015, Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County‘s creator, gave a interview at NPR. He said,

I remember walking – I was in Santa Barbara, maybe 18 months ago. I was riding a scooter with my little boy down State Street, and I passed a guy and rolled around his feet and kept going, and I realized who it was. And I stopped, and I told my kid to follow me, and I came back and confronted him, which I normally never would. And that was Barry Manilow.

Who appeared in my comic several times, and probably not in the most flattering way, in 1985. In fact, I was probably pretty ruthless with him. . .

And I walked up to him and introduced myself, and he remembered who I was. We both remembered that he sent me a bouquet of flowers when I broke my back in 1987 in a plane crash. The target of my meanest cartoons sent me a huge bouquet of flowers, at my hospital. And we both remembered it, and we laughed about it, and he turned to my son and said:

“He is one of the greatest designers of our generation.” And I turned to my boy and said, “He’s one of the greatest and most famous singers of our generation.”

And I realized that I would – I don’t have the strength to do it again. It’s in the category of things I do differently now. I’m not the same guy I was in 1985 anymore. Luckily my sense of humor isn’t completely wiped out, but . . .

Pleasant. Alright, what else? Two days ago, I got a little post about music venue etiquette, and a reader wrote,

I read your story about the young man playing with his phone at Carnegie Hall, and it reminded me of something that happened recently. I witnessed a sublime performance by The magic flute at the Royal Opera House when an elderly man in the audience started making muffled sounds. I didn’t realize it at first, but as he continued I realized he was singing with the Queen of the Night. He was repeatedly told to stop and he was finally expelled! . . .

I suspect that because the lockdowns prevented us from interacting with each other, we forgot how to behave in public, for example. However, there is an advantage to all this: almost no coughing.

Our reader refers to a item from Guardian, who says coughing in theaters is a “new taboo”. While cough was common in the past, today it is stigmatized.

It reminds me of a conversation I overheard in the spring of 2020. I included it in a little memoir I wrote: “Pandemic City: One man’s experience in New York. A young man was talking to a friend of his in Riverside Park. He said: “I have hay fever and when I cough people look at me like I’m a serial killer.”

There’s a lot more mail — good mail too — but I’ve saved you for a while, and maybe we should have another short note. Could put a smile on your face.


I work a bit in politics, at the grassroots level. People said crazy, crazy things. I thought, “Where is the silent majority when you need it?”

Good luck to everyone. Today’s Impromptus, once again, is there.


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