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Episode 2: Going the Social Distance (illustrated by Max Rodriguez)

Day 3 of Lockdown, after a full 7 hours remote teaching in my garage classroom. Read with Cake’s Going the Distance cranked up to 11!

There’s nothing like a pandemic to bring folks out of the house.

Read Episode #1 HERE: Face/Off

BC (Before Cornavirus), I ran 20 miles a week, and our lovely bay trail had some walkers, maybe a runner or two, and I recognized most of them. We waved, and went on our way. But really, it was mostly an empty run — which is the way I like it, especially after a long day teaching. Running is an integral part of my self-care — it’s not just about physical fitness, but spiritual balance, a practice especially vital during the last year, dealing with a recurrence of the brain tumor I’ve lived with for 11 years, along with 8 months of oral chemo (which is now complete, thankfully).

Read more on my relationship with exercise and the culture of the “Perfect Cancer Patient” here, in a graphic essay from a few years ago.

Indeed, running is my meditation, my daily spiritual ritual, one I turn to during hard times — like now. And now, more than ever, as a person with a chronic condition, trying to keep myself and family safe while teaching online for hours in a musty garage, I need that practice more than ever — that time alone, to run in nature, to regain balance, composure.

AC (After Corna), during lockdown, the whole community seems to be out walking — whole families, couples, little kids on bikes. On the one hand, it’s beautiful to finally see our community out enjoying nature together, away from the lure of the screen, holding hands, smiling, playing, taking advantage of the joys of the Great Outdoors.

Shot taken on run yesterday

On the other hand (which has been throughly sanitized), it’s a flippin’ pandemic!

Thankfully, it’s not nearly as packed in my neighborhood as this cartoon jests — and, folks are generally very respectful, great with social distancing. It’s nothing like the absurd outing on Stinson Beach last weekend, which got all of Marin trails closed. And in truth, if an area was as packed as this toon, I wouldn’t go there at all — and if I happened upon that crowd, I’d just turn around, rather than play Virus AvoiderTM.

And while the cartoon shows my perspective as a runner, trying to maintain 6 feet the whole way, it’s not just about me. I’m a big, hairy dude, and while speeding along the trail, sweating and heaving as I do, I imagine else on the path is performing the same calculation —

How the hell do I get away from that Bigfoot?

As a runner, I think it’s my responsibility to watch out for others — not the other way around. We are the faster traffic, and more likely to come up quickly on folks who don’t have a chance to react, or prepare mentally. Thus, now I map out my runs in advance to make sure I’m in empty areas, and ones without “choke points,” where we are less than six-feet apart. I try to find the widest paths possible, especially ones without any blind corners. Further, if I see people that are on a path I want to take, I’ll just wait for them to go by, or find another path, rather than having to rush past their social distance bubble.

Overall, I work to be a good citizen of the trail — including waving and smiling! — so that the new folks enjoying the outdoors feel safe, and after this is all over, while maybe want to stay outside!

The below image is from “The Perfect Cancer Patient” with illustrator Marc Parenteau (co-written with Gayle Sulik)

All my comics are here: https://adambessie.com/2019/06/30/collected-comix/

My Teens in Comics: The Rise of Graphic Journalism, Graphic Medicine & My Top Ten Toons.

Journalism will again become what it was more than a century ago – a form of art. –Chris Hedges

From The Perfect Cancer Patient with Gayle Sulik and Marc Parenteau

The teens did not bring Hedges’ words to fruition — mainstream journalism did not return to a golden age of revolutionary truth-telling, but quite the reverse, with our “post-truth” world, full of filter bubbles flowing with “fake news.” Yet, despite the grim state of contemporary journalism in general, Hedges prophecy has come true in the teens — for graphic journalism.

What Comes After Post-Truth? With Jason Novak in The Awl

Hedges words also opened my 2011 Truthout report “Warning: This Article Contains Graphic Journalism“, a time when I found myself writing solely prose essays (the title is inspired by Rocco Versaci’s ground-breaking work of comics scholarship This Book Contains Graphic Language: Comics As Literature). Then, also, I was still making the case that comics are literature, an appropriate medium for study in college classroom. I interviewed the some of the key figures in the “new” wave of comics journalism: Sarah Glidden, who had just published the fantastic graphic memoir How to Understand Israel in 60 Days, Matt Bors (who had just published a remarkable comic on his travels in Afghanistan in a series “Afghan Life“, and hadn’t yet gone on to create The Nib), Ted Rall (who had already a long-track record of hard-hitting comics journalism), and Dan Archer who effectively defined the field in a comic and speech (click here). Indeed, graphic journalism was already heeding Hedges’ call — it was art, in every sense of the word.

And I wanted in.

From “No Shame in Staying Alive,” with Marc Parenteau.

A decade ago, I was a comics scholar, educator, and journalist — but what I really wanted to do was to make comics. And after meeting Dan Archer at San Francisco Zinefest, I got that first break, with our series for Truthout The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum (2012), a three part series exploring the privatization and standardization of education in the United States. I knew that as a pure-text essay, as I’d been writing for years, it would get a narrow audience of folks who already knew the issues and generally agreed. However, with this report, I hoped to broaden and diversify the audience involved in the education reform conversation.

From The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum with Dan Archer. Interview with anonymous Washington D.C. public school educator

At that time, few mainstream outlets seem to understand comics as a form of serious journalism — not only did I have to make the pitch for the story, but provide an explanation of comics as a legitimate medium (it was the same kind of argument I had made countless times in the academic setting). Truthout got it right out — thanks in large part to Anne Elizabeth Moore, co-editor of the first Best American Comics (with Harvey Pekar). Anne was also producing a fantastic series for Truthout “Ladydrawers,” and so Truthout understood comics as journalism. Thus, when we pitched the project, I didn’t have to explain why Dan and I were using comics — they were excited by the opportunity, and immediately grasped how such a project could drive active engagement over a wider and more diverse population.

From The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum. Interview with education activist Karran Harper Royal.

Now, in 2020, you can find comics journalism in most major outlets — indeed, Wendy Macnaugthon found her “drawn journalism” (as she dubs it) on the cover of the New York Times recently. This rising tide of interest in non-fiction comics is also reflected by the popularity of graphic memoir — such as Raina Telgemeier’s immensely popular series, including most recently Guts. Further, and most personally as a cancer survivor, the emergence of Graphic Medicine has created space for patients like me to tell their stories in a vivid and humanizing form.

From Pink Ribbon Envy: Living With an Uncool Cancer with Dan Archer at The Nib

This comics movement of the teens — built by incredible, and often ill-compensated work by countless creators, editors and publishers, some of whom I’ve shouted out here — created the space that allowed me to not just write, but actually get a number of scripts produced and published in a wide variety of outlets, including The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, and The Nib (Matt Bors‘ outlet truly created a platform to usher in this new era of comics journalism). I feel immensely grateful to have been able to join the field during this exciting time, and be surrounded by such incredibly talented and hard-working artists, writers, and editors, who continue be driven to illustrate the truth in a dark time — and do so artfully.

As we move into the 20s, I’m optimistic about the state of non-fiction visual storytelling. I plan to continue my work with comics journalism. However, I’m focused on my memoir It’s All In Your Head, a book-length hybrid comics/prose story of my journey living with a brain tumor while balancing being a parent, partner, and professor.

Here are my ten of the teens (with links). For all my comics, click here

Notification: You’ve Got Cancer with Josh Neufeld, at The Boston Globe

Graphic Essay: Betsy DeVos’ ‘School Choice’ Movement Isn’t Social Justice. It’s a Return to Segregation.  With Erik Thurman for Fusion (now Splinternews)

Philosophers at Theme Parks with Jason Novak in the New Yorker’s Daily Shouts

No shame in staying alive: How medical marijuana helped save me from brain cancer,” with Marc Parteneau at Fusion (now Splinternews)

Children of the Code: Big Data, Little Kids with Dan Carino, at Truthout

The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum: The High Price of Education Reform (Episode 1)  with Dan Archer, at Truthout

The Teacher Ghetto with Jason Novak, at The Atlantic

This School Is Not A Pipe with Josh Neufeld, at Truthout

The War on Everything with Jason Novak at The Los Angeles Times

Pink Ribbon Envy: Living with an Uncool Cancer (with Dan Archer, and Medium’s The Nib)

CONTACT: Adam.Bessie@gmail.com

Collected Comix 2012 – 2019

Book-length graphic memoir in progress: It’s All In Your Head: A Decade of Living With Brain Cancer (with Marc Parenteau).

From the opening chapter Abercrombie Vampires

A Scanner Constantly with Josh Neufeld at Pacific Standard

No Shame in Staying Alive: How Medical Marijuana Helped Saved Me from Brain Cancer with Marc Parenteau at Fusion

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Notification: You’ve Got Cancer with Josh Neufeld, at The Boston Globe

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Pink Ribbon Envy: Living with an Uncool Cancer (with Dan Archer, and Medium’s The Nib)

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The Perfect Cancer Patient with medical sociologist Gayle Sulik and Marc Parenteau at Narritve.ly.  CLICK HERE FOR AN Extra Scene, not published in the original!

“What’s Burning?” forthcoming with Marc Parenteau in Project Censored 2020(Seven Stories Press)

A view from 30 miles downwind of the 2018 Nor Cal wildfire

Gun Climate, with Marc Parenteau at PEN America

Philosophers at Theme Parks with Jason Novak in the New Yorker’s Daily Shouts

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Graphic Essay: Betsy DeVos’ ‘School Choice’ Movement Isn’t Social Justice. It’s a Return to Segregation.  With Erik Thurman for Fusion (now Splinternews)

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Children of the Code: Big Data, Little Kids with Dan Carino, at Truthout

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This School Is Not A Pipe with Josh Neufeld, at Truthout

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The Teacher Ghetto with Jason Novak, at The Atlantic

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Playground Purgatory with Jason Novak at The Boston Globe

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What’s After Post-Truth? with Jason Novak in The Awl

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House-Hunters Interdimensional with Jason Novak at The Nib

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The Internet of Living Things with Jason Novak at The Los Angeles Times

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The War on Everything with Jason Novak at The Los Angeles Times

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Lesser Known Cabinet Positions with Jason Novak at The Boston Globe

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Mythical Beasts of 21st Century Technology with Jason Novak at The Boston Globe

Google Succubus

The Google Succubus

Modern Day Patron Saints with Jason Novak at The Awl

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It Came From the Comments Section! with Jason Novak at The Awl

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Board Gaming The System (with Jason Novak for the Peabody Essex Museum’s (Salem, MA) Playtime Exhibit).

The Game of Artificial Life

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Magical Thinking: The Unraveling

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Walls and Fences

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The Gates Education Reform Hype Machine and Bizzare Inequality Theory (with Dan Carino, at Truthout
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The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum: The High Price of Education Reform (Episode 1) (with Dan Archer, at Truthout)

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Murky Water: The Education Debate in New Orleans (with Dan Archer, at Truthout)

The Finnish Alternative: Reclaiming Public Education From Corporate Reform (with Dan Archer, at Truthout)

Trump Universe  with Peter Glanting in Project Censored 2018 (Seven Stories Press)

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For inquires: adam.bessie@gmail.com

Martin Luther King Jr.’s March Against Tenure…

… didn’t happen.  But reading the hyperbolic post-Vergara cheering from Michelle Rhee and others, one would think he did, with vigor.

Here is my reply to San Jose Mercury News editorial “Vergara decision quantifies the harm done by inadequate teachers” the home paper of Silicon Valley billionaire David Welsh who financed the case.   I posted mine in their comments, and invite you to engage in dialogue as well.

We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.” – Martin Luther King. Jr.

Despite the excellent, heart-rendering spin, the Vergaga suit is not civil rights. It’s not Brown v. the Board of Education.

Can one imagine Martin Luther King, Jr. walking arm in arm with billionaires against middle-class teachers rights?

Talk about theatre of the absurd.

King would be marching against the great inequality in CA, which is #1 in poverty and has the most billionaires. Nowhere is this inequality greater than in Welch’s own backyard of the Bay Area (and Silicon Valley in particular).

Poverty is the real civil rights injustice visited on children – not due process for teachers.

 

Free the News: Support Project Censored’s Funding Drive

Tired of Kim and Kayne’s kerfuffles controlling the news cycle?

Please consider a donation: http://www.projectcensored.org/fall-newsletter/ 

For over 30 years, Project Censored has worked tirelessly to provide an organic alternative to the high-sugar, low-content, industrial-grade processed and packaged Junk Food “news” which the corporate media serves up for mass consumption, and mass distraction.

Project Censored is a critical part of the independent media news chain, ensuring we all have access to the real, substantial news needed to make informed decisions in our democracy.

Indeed, Project Censored provided fertile soil to cultivate my approach to education journalism.  I’ve had the honor to write for their annual books from Seven Stories Press in 2011, 2012, and 2013, on their companion blog Daily Censored, and to speak on Project Censored Radio, a weekly show on Bay Area’s KPFA.

Project Censored is moving to a broader stage, including an award winning film Project Censored The Film: Ending the Reign of Junk Food News, featuring luminaries like Noam Chomsky

Now, Project Censored needs our support:

Every autumn we celebrate the work of independent journalism with the publication of our book. Even while we look back at the past year’s most censored news, we are hard at work on next year’s volume! Our current Fall Fund Drive is now underway and will continue for 12 days only. During that time, we will send an e-mail reminder every couple days, but only for the duration of the drive. We need to raise $15,000 to begin our work on Censored 2015 and to continue to expand our program of hands-on training in media literacy and critical thinking at college and university campuses across the country. We also continue to seek funding to hire a part-time administrative assistant. And, we have a generous $1,000 match to kick things off! Please choose one of the several support levels on the right hand side of this message. Each level offers different premiums of Project Censored’s latest work. You can choose to become a monthly subscriber or you can simply be a one-time donor. We appreciate all the help we get! Looking ahead, we expect to be even more productive over the next few months, but we need your financial support to do our best work

Please consider a donation: http://www.projectcensored.org/fall-newsletter/ 

PHOTO: The Revolution Will Be Monetized

PHOTO: The Revolution Will Be Monetized

The Revolution Will Be Monetized! With Che Guevara – the American Spirit.
Photo by Adam Bessie in Munich, Germany. 2013.

Diane Ravitch, Adam Bessie, and the Folsom Street Fair…

 Diane Ravitch, Adam Bessie, and the Folsom Street Fair...

I had the honor of having lunch with Diane on her book tour for REIGN OF ERROR near her hotel in downtown SF. While lunching, we randomly met up with author David Sirota (http://www.davidsirota.com/) to talk education politics, along with the ever articulate and insightful Anthony Cody (http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/).

As if to (leather) cap off a fully San Francisco-esque day, a steady stream of fully-chapped, mustachioed gentlemen flowed by, bound to the annual Folsom Street Fair, an annual celebration of BDSM culture.

It was a fully uncensored experience.

Leather aside, this is the second time I’ve had the good fortune to meet with Diane, and both times, I’ve been struck by her absolute devotion to providing all children the education only our most privileged children receive. Unlike the corporate reformers, who clad themselves in the pleather trappings of social justice and equity, Diane is truly committed to the institution of public education, for the enrichment not of corporations, but of democracy, and humanity.

She is a hero for those of us who still believe in the promise of public education.

You can buy or download her book at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Reign-Error-Privatization-Movement-Americas/dp/0385350880

Josh Neufeld

Comix and Stories

radical eyes for equity

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Are schools failing, or are they being failed?

NIKHIL GOYAL

Sociologist, educator, and organizer

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