I’m not usually one to comment or add input to public discussion – But when something like this is called for, I want to do my part. Over on Eden Bee‘s Blog ‘Slum Goddess – A Life of Lunacy.‘, there is an article that Robert Crumb has created in response to a recent article published by The Observer, titled ‘Robert Crumb Hates You‘. To hear that one of my favourite artists has been disrespected in such a way frustrates me – to such a point where R.Crumb himself is driven to express his own frustrations, which he (or anyone) should not have to do. No one deserves this kind of snakery. So I would like to share the following, courtesy of Eden B, John Heneghan & The Robert Crumb Appreciation Society.
Here is the rebuttal, titled “R. Crumb Doesn’t Hate “You.”
In mid-October The New York Observer ran a big article called “R. Crumb Hates You.” This article was quite distressing to me and I feel a somewhat urgent need to tell the reading public some of what’s wrong with it and why. Hopefully, I won’t go on too long about it. I’ll try to restrain myself. My friend Eden has kindly agreed to get his posted for me.
The most urgent thing I need to do is to rectify the remark quoted in the article where I say, “We should still bomb motherfucking banks.” Mostly I just want to say I don’t really believe we should “bomb the motherfucking banks.” Honest! I don’t! Okay? I was just shooting off my mouth! Okay? I LOVE banks! I really do! I keep my money in them, just like most people! Two of them! I do not advocate violence of any kind! I’m a man of peace, okay?
A lot of things in this poorly written article I’m sure I never actually said. I never said Tim Leary was a “big phony.” In fact I think he was quite sincere, though perhaps a man with a big ego. I know I absolutely never said “I like to be sucked while I’m sitting on a chair with the woman kneeling…” I swear, Hyzagi just made that up. I know because I would certainly remember if I ever did that in my life and I can say absolutely that I never, ever had a woman kneel in front of me and perform oral sex on me while I sat in a chair. I might’ve told him that I like to have the woman lay on her tummy in front of me and suck it while I spank her, but that is an entirely different thing.
I believe The New York Observer WANTED to make me look bad. Just the name of the article, “Robert Crumb Hates You,” over a photo they carefully chose of me at some art opening somewhere scowling miserably at the camera. “Robert Crumb Hates You.” What does that even mean? I don’t hate “you.” How can I hate “you” when I don’t even know “you”? What is this meant to convey? Obviously, the message is, this is a nasty, mean-spirited old crank. Sure, I hate a lot of what goes on in the world. A lot of what people do is hateful. But I try to hate the sin, not the sinner. It’s a mistake to focus one’s hatred on persons, on individuals. It’s the fucked up things they do that one’s outrage should be focused on. I’ve always felt that way.
I regret that I ever consented to give this interview, that I let the journalist, Jacques Hyzagi, come to my home and hang around for two days talking to me. I should’ve known better. I was warned about this paper, that it was owned by the ruthless real estate developer, Jared Kushner, that the editor, Ken Kurson, was an old friend of Kushner’s who was once “deputy director for communications at Giuliani Partners,” that Jared Kushner is married to Donald Trump’s daughter and that they pal around with Rupert Murdoch. You’d think I would know better than allow myself to be had by these people, having received this information.
It’s hard to say how much the distortions and words put in my mouth by Hyzagi were deliberate. He taped the interview but as English is not his first language it’s possible that he simply misunderstood some things and put his own interpretation on them. That’s possible. He sent me a first draft which was so bad that I rewrote some of it but was reluctant to mess with it too much for fear of offending him. He was “pissed off” anyway, accused me of being “manipulative” and trying to “control my image.” He did leave in most of my rewrites but he also put some things back in that I had taken out and even added things and did not send me a final draft before going to press. I didn’t even know the article was out until a friend told me he read it on the Internet. I regret now that I didn’t just rewrite the whole thing. It was badly written. It’s still not very good.
But I’m afraid. I’m afraid of the consequences. The media is very powerful. I’m even afraid of angering the gang at The New York Observer, Kushner, Kurson and Hyzagi. It’s that awful feeling of, oh God, what have I gotten myself into?! I don’t want the government or anyone else deciding that I need to be punished for saying that banks should be blown up. A remark like that is taken very seriously in some quarters if it’s reported in a public media venue, by anybody, but particularly by a well-known person whose opinions and ideas might influence people’s behavior. The “powers that be” have monitoring agents that do nothing but scan the media for such things.
It’s my own fault. I’m not good at dealing with the media. I talked to Hyzagi like I would chat with a friend. I tend to forget that I’m talking to a journalist and that it all might end up in print. To blurt out to someone in private conversation that you think they oughta still bomb the motherfucking banks is not the same thing as advocating it in public print. I seem to forget that. And then on top of that I was dealing with people who have some kind of agenda, some way they want to use you to promote some ideology of their own. And I felt horribly used by them.
Hyzagi got me to talk about sex pretty openly, asking me what my favorite positions were, and I naively described to him some favorite positions. What a fool! I have only my own giant ego to blame. It was only afterward that I realized, wait a minute! What am I doing, telling an interviewer what my favorite positions are?! How did I get sucked into doing that?? What a vain ass I am! After he sent me the first draft I wrote back to him and urged him strongly to take out what I said about my favorite sexual positions, and I wrote that whole thing about giggling nervously and shifting in my chair and saying, “Is that something I really have to…” in the article. He kept that in the article, but then he added in that whole thing about sitting on a chair with a woman kneeling, etc. I believe they were trying hard to make me look like a nasty pervert. Okay, it’s all in the comics, but, you know, I control what I put in the comics. It’s my own slant, my own take on my crazy sexuality.
I should’ve been more guarded with Hyzagi. Plus, I was truly dismayed by the sloppy patch job he did, taking bits and pieces from different conversations and tossing them together very carelessly. A lot of the rewriting I did was just trying to make it readable, coherent. I spent way too much time on that frickin’ article. I had to do it as it was by then too late to stop them from running it.
Of course you’re right. I should have said no right from the start, when they first contacted me, but Hyzagi was very assertive. I’m too soft, that’s my trouble. It’s not like I want or seek publicity. Why did I say yes? To be nice?? Was there any vanity on my part involved? I must seriously cross-examine myself in this regard. Do I like to hear the sound of my own voice? Do I think I have some great wisdom to impart to the public? What the FUCK was I thinking?
It’s EGO… Let’s face it… It’s all about EGO…
I shoulda’ known when I learned of the character of Kushner, the owner of the paper, and that he had brought in his old friend Ken Kurson to be editor-in-chief. I didn’t listen closely enough to my inner paranoia. As it turns out, Hyzagi greatly admires the editor, Ken Kurson. Kurson seems to be a charismatic, persuasive person. He will go far in this world.
Just to set the record straight, it was Hyzagi who said that he went to Zuccotti Park to check out Occupy Wall Street, and opined that the people were fools, but it’s not at all clear the way it’s written that it was him saying that. It doesn’t say who’s saying it. Am I paranoid for thinking this might be deliberate on the part of the editor, Ken Kurson? Kurson, this “close and trusted friend” of the owner, Jared Kushner, this former deputy-director of communications for Giuliani Partners, this employee of Jamestown Associates, a Republican political consulting firm based in New Jersey. What do these men want with this newspaper? They are money men. How do they mean to use this media venue? Do they mean to influence how the public thinks about politics, economics, culture? Did Kushner receive advice on the usefulness of owning a newspaper from his friend Rupert Murdoch?
Okay, enough dwelling on this miserable blunder. I just want to say to any left-liberal media personality or writer, artist, musician, whatever, be very wary if you are approached for an interview by anyone working for The New York Observer. They are out to skewer you.