I was reading a story in The New Yorker about the pending threat of a strike against United Parcel Service by their Teamsters drivers, and this paragraph brought me up short:
Twenty-six years ago, the sort of friendly rapport that he and many UPS drivers have with their customers helped fuel public support for UPS’s workers when they went on strike with their union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
I thought, well, wait a minute, that can’t be right. I covered the last UPS strike, and it couldn’t have been 26 years ago. I was working at the McKeesport Daily News and photographer Wade Massie and I went out to take photos of scab drivers crossing a picket line in Pitcairn.
If you heard Saturday’s show (repeated Sunday afternoon) you heard a bunch of soundbites from Bert and Ernie of “Sesame Street.” (As opposed to Bert and Ernie of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”)
I don’t mean to disillusion you, but they weren’t in the studio with me — the magic of radio! theater of the mind! — and they also weren’t exclusive to me. Not hardly. They were part of a video series that Elle Magazine has created called “Song Association,” in which celebrities are given a vocabulary word, and then have 10 seconds to think of a song that includes the word.
If you subscribe to the newsletter feed of this website, you probably got something like 14 messages yesterday from me. My apologies … I uploaded a bunch of old cartoons to the site and had no idea WordPress would send them all out individually until my phone blew up and I saw that I had 14 emails … from myself.
I’m very sorry if you were spammed, and I’ll try to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
The big news is the announcement that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is buying the region’s alternative weekly, Pittsburgh City Paper, from the owners of the Butler Eagle in Butler County. (The two companies have already been friendly. Butler Eagle has been printing the Post-Gazette during the Post-Gazette’s ongoing strike, and tried to stop City Paper from reporting it, which led City Paper’s then-editor, Lisa Cunningham, to resign in protest in October 2022.)
The Butler Eagle is a conservative paper, both in its editorial outlook and business operations. So the idea of them owning City Paper — which had long been a champion of progressive causes, including police oversight, government accountability, social services and racial and LGBTQ equality — always seemed odd, even back when it was announced in 2016.
I suppose the fact that my real name isn’t “Jay Thurber” isn’t a surprise to a lot of folks. I picked the DJ name more than 20 years ago as a tribute to my favorite writer and cartoonist, and it just kind of “stuck.” But I use my real name everywhere else (including the talk show I produce for WEDO and WZUM), and on the cartoons I draw each month for CQ Amateur Radio Magazine.
I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon, and took some summer art classes in high school, but I’m more or less untrained, and it sometimes shows. I didn’t learn how to use a lightbox until very recently, and I stuck to an old-fashioned metal pin and inkwell for much too long. I still haven’t learned to use a digital tablet and stylus.
I did editorial cartoons for the college paper, as well as a weekly comic strip, but after graduation, I more or less went back into the art closet, so to speak, for about 10 years, rarely drawing anything. (For a short time in the 2000s, I was freelancing editorial cartoons for a small chain of weekly papers in New England, but the editor who was buying them had … shall we say … a difference of opinion with the owners, so that ended that.)
Every so often, something from the early days of television pops up on YouTube and I’m gobsmacked, wondering: Where did someone find this? This video clip qualifies as one of those. What we have here, from Dec. 31, 1965, is the first 30 minutes of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
This is rare for two reasons: First, although Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” from 1962 to 1972, very few video recordings exist.
Second, this clip also includes the seldom-seen first 15 minutes of “Tonight,” which happened before 11:30 p.m. and was hosted by Carson’s long-time sidekick, Ed McMahon, and one-time “Tonight Show” bandleader Skitch Henderson.
The comic strip “Funky Winkerbean” is ending a remarkable 50-year run this week. I’ll admit, I never paid much attention to the strip during its heyday in the ’80s, mostly because it didn’t run in any of the newspapers we received.
In fact, the first time I heard of it was as a punchline in Berke Breathed’s “Bloom County” in which one of the characters (Opus, I think) snorted newspaper ink and began hallucinating “giant, fanged Funky Winkerbeans” and I didn’t actually realize a “Funky Winkerbean” was a real thing.
The first time I actually saw it was in the Greensburg Tribune-Review (I think). I then began reading “Funky” regularly in the 2000s, when the McKeesport Daily News picked it up; and, of course, syndicated comic strips became easy to find online at around the same time.
“Funky,” created by northern Ohio artist Tom Batiuk, spent the first 20 years or so of its existence as a standard gag-a-day newspaper comic strip about life in a small-town Ohio high school. Batiuk, who started the strip while working as a high school teacher, based the characters and settings on people he knew around Akron, Kent and other northern Ohio towns, not far from Pittsburgh.