Monday, November 9, 2015

R. Crumb Doesn’t Hate “You.” R. Crumb Hates The New York Observer.


So a few weeks ago the newspaper the Observer which is owned by real estate developer Jared Kushner who is also Donald Trump's son-in-law, published an article/interview with Robert Crumb who is a good friend and bandmate of mine in East River String Band. Along with being a great artist, Robert also plays many instruments well and he sits in and records with us on mandolin and draws all of our album cover art along with playing gigs with us when he can. I admire and respect Robert greatly to say the least. This journalist showed up in France three days after John and I left for England so I never got to meet him but Robert is VERY unhappy about what they published. We emailed about it and he asked me to post his response to the article on my blog as he feels the need to set the record straight about all this. Hopefully this will get a lot of traffic and other blogs will link to it. He asked me to get some publicity if I can. He wants as many people to read this as possible. Feel free to link it if you are a blogger, tweet it, post it around facebook..the works!

This is what was sent to me a few days ago from Robert Crumb:


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 this 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.
R.C.


So that is Robert's side of the story. Which is the truth as opposed to Jacques Hyzagi's insanity and lies. As shown with his latest Elle on Earth rant and twitter feed. The man is certifiable. 
On another note since this gets so many hits...I gotta promote our little band with Crumb!
To hear our band stuff and a free podcast we do with Crumb check out our website here:www.eastriverstringband.com
We play in both Europe and the states. The free podcast is here with MANY episodes with R Crumb with great old music from his 78 collection and some funny chit chat too:http://www.eastriverstringband.com/radioshow/

To buy from us on eBay check out our auctions here: http://www.ebay.com/sch/edenandjohn/m.html?item=252342512306&ssPageName=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2562

43 comments:

  1. You'd think, given his past experience with the media that Robert would know better by now. But at least you've given him this avenue to correct and address things. Which is cool. But hell, I was interviewed three times back in 2001 after the New York Times published a piece on digital art and even then, having never gone through the experience, I knew that I needed to be careful about what I said and how I acted. ;-)

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  2. I'm a left-liberal guy myself, and I've known Ken Kurson for 30 years. Although I despise Rudy Giuliani and don't see eye-to-eye with Kurson on political matters, I trust his integrity and his sensibility and really believe he wanted to publish this article because he greatly admires R Crumb. I don't think he intended any hatchet-job.

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  3. I thought the interviewer came across as slimy, so the article was taken with a grain of salt. Should have been taken with shaker it sounds like! Thanks for the response Robert (and for publishing, Eden).

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  4. Jaques Hyzagi has no class.He just the worst kind of a creep; depressingly so. This a very disrespectful interview, and as Crumb infers,it is poorly put together as well. It still has some interesting things in it here and there, however

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  5. Wow, fuck the observer. And fuck Hyzagi. Mr. Crumb, I'd like to write an article on you, for you, with you about this whole situation and/or allow you the article that you had initially expected to be written. You deserve the respect of honesty and misquoting does not fall into that realm of respect. Please contact me: Whorse.krapp@gmail.com. Maybe through Vice?

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    1. After what he's been through, do you really think he'd be comfortable being interviewed by someone who calls himself "Whorse Krapp?"

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  6. Haha I think that's my friend Horse. I did email and tweet this link to Vice but no reply yet. I spent hours posting this thing everywhere today and emailing it to blogs, papers and anything I could think of. It's gotten more hits than any post I've ever had up here. Even the one where I was locked on the Tompkins Park bathroom and gothamist linked the post to make fun of me!
    Thanks for your comments and emails and for sharing this if you did!

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  7. Robert is a decent, honorable man of high moral fabric in his unique way. Always has been, still is. Thank you for printing this.

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    1. Robert is all that and more. I still advocate fucking up banks. Isla Vista, Baby!!

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  8. It's a shame what happened with this whole lousy mess. Robert Crumb doesn't deserve to be dragged through the mud because he was nice enough to spend time talking with this "journalist."

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  9. I think that "I talked to Hyzagi like I would chat with a friend" is at the crux of this. Robert is sweet and playful, and has such a good soul. He's not one of those people who is constantly examining his words for others' potential interpretations. That can really backfire when talking to an interviewer.

    I'm grateful for this clarification, and angry at myself for posting the original interview. Thanks for this, Eden.

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  10. I read the initial article - it didn't seem to me to be negative about R. Crumb at all. I am a big fan of Mr. Crumb's work, and of Mr. Crumb. I thought the article did a good job of showing him as the iconoclast treasure that he truly is.

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  11. Dear Robert Crumb, you are a great artist and have inspired my family for over 40 years. Remember what Mr. Natural says: don't mean sheeit.... With much love and admiration Loretta Leu

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  12. Phew! I thought there was something awfully not right about that "bomb the banks", that's a statement that invites a visit from the guys at the Embassy, then they start messing with your visas and other travel documents. I'd seriously hire a lawyer, Mr. Crumb and demand a retraction and also the entire transcript of the interview.

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  13. My vote is still on Robert Crumb. :-) Thank you Robert Crumb, only people that go through stuff like this can fully understand. I too was told I was soft, and I am a nice person. I kind of went through similar at one job. People can make you and people can break you if you let them. Please be more careful. I'm heeding my own advice as well. Thank you Eden for posting. I'm reposting too.

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  14. Old EV proverbs:
    Penis mightier than sword (again!)
    NEVER discuss sexual positions until you have an opportunity to use one.
    It's only a free press for those who own one.

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  15. When I read the interview I didn't think anything of it, it seemed no different than almost any other interview he has done over the years and he's gotten way more graphic and detailed in interviews before on sex and everything. Sure the interviewer came off as a douche, but Crumb has been through that before, just go watch the interview he did in the 80s with Al Goldstien. And so what even if Crumb said bomb the banks, he's said much worse over the years and I didn't take it serious anyway, though I can understand how he doesn't want to be misquoted, but really who cares about the misquote about the sex stuff. I just kind of don't understand why this interview all of a sudden is a big deal to him, it didn't even show him in a bad light really at all. If anyone has read his comics or seen his documentaries or any interview he has ever done, they are way more revealing and have way more controversial things than he said in this latest interview.

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  16. Thanks for all the comments and views everyone! I only got one crazy comment I had to delete. I disagree about saying to bomb banks is not a big deal. In this day and age? A celebrity saying that? Are you kidding?
    Anyone none of us are as well known as Robert so it's his reputation he's tryong to keep straight here not ours.
    The interview sounds nothing like what Robert is like if you actually know him in real life. Nothing. If it were me I'd be pissed too. He put the guy up and fed him for days. Though oddly enough the journalist would only ear rotisserie chicken and peaches every day.

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  17. Robert always gives "revealing" interviews and says what he thinks. This time though he did not say much of what was printed and it's not all all what he thinks. He has every right to be angry. No wonder he stopped doing interviews.

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  18. My first thought upon reading the Observer article was, "After spending two (wasn't it three?) days with R. Crumb, this is what he got?" Robert is a fascinating guy, and the piece was shallow and dull-witted. An hour with Robert would ordinarily yield far more interesting comments and insights than he recorded in his entire piece (sexual positions notwithstanding). My second thought was to wonder why Robert spent two (or three) days giving this yahoo his time. I was not taken aback by Robert's bomb-the-banks comment because Robert is a well-known satirist and it was clearly meant to express a broader sentiment of displeasure and not as a practical hortatory directive. So, I hope he does not fret unduly over it.

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  19. I felt the same way. I'm not even sure I finished the piece. It was so badly written and sort of hateful I may have put it down at first until Robert contacted me about it. Then I read it all the way through. I saw he recently did another interview for a blues mag and that one was a lot better so with that and now this post getting so much attention I think he'll feel better about it all.
    Thanks for the link on TCJ board I got a lot of hits from there today!

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  20. Everyone knows that I'm the one who wants to bomb the banks! I feel usurped.

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  21. I think anybody who's read a number of Crumb interviews would see the Observer interview as uncharacteristic. That paper is usually sensationalistic, isn't it?

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  22. Since it was bought by Kushner in 2006, yes.

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  23. Skip, in case you were serious Groth double posted so I deleted the first draft of what he wrote as he posted again ten minutes later with the same comment but edited. All comments are put through except for one which was just name calling and did not add anything to this thread.
    You can email the Observer and tell them you want to bomb the banks I think. Click on the Banks-Should they Be Bombed or No? link on their website!

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  24. I didn't read all the comments, but I read the Observer article. It was thought-provoking. I liked what Robert had to say about the '60s men and their philandering ways, etc., it gave insight into that era and lifestyle. After I read the article I cracked open R. Crumb's "My Troubles (Problems?) With Women" and read a story or two. Then I read some of "Mr. Natural," with Floont (?) hiding out in his bathtub, etc. It was hilarious! Even if the article was B.S., it still made me appreciate how great R. Crumb is and how insightful he is to the human condition, and sexuality -- he said it can drive guys nuts, and that's so true. As an artist, you (he, us) etc., want to focus on creating, but the sexual urge is so strong -- it's how the human race continues. Eden, would Robert want to do an interview with The Villager? I don't know if we can fly to France, but... I'm sure we could do a much better job than that Observer hack-a-shack. - Lincoln

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  25. R. Crumb is a cranky geezer who has hated everybody since forever. Not only that, but he is also an "honorary" New Yawker, so if he wants to say somethin', le-dim sey-it!

    p.s. I see a strip in the making from this lousy treatment of the Right Honorable Mr. C.!

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  26. R. Crumb is the best. I have seen an interview aong time ago, where he said he had a weakness for letting joirnalist visit him and take up too much of his time and take advantage and that his wife really is the one that has to kick these people out. Looks like things have not changed.

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  27. The Observer is worthless drivel for rich people. I'm not rich but I do read it most weeks because a rich guy moved out and never changed his subscription address, so I pick it up (you can do that when you're rich...). So, yeah, the interview was a mess and the writing was atrocious, and the whole thing seemed off kilter. If it wasn't for the fact that Rex Reed is still pretty funny, I'd probably just toss the thing when it shows up. But it's probably not a bad idea to keep up with the people and things that impress the ruling class, and Reed is funny, so....

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  28. Hmmmm. I think the counter-interview is unnecessary, but certainly too long, rambling, and breathless. I've been a Crumb-bum since the 60s. I'm glad he's still truckin' when so many aren't...from Hendrix to Garcia.

    If he really wants to undo his Observer interview he should do it in a cartoon series.

    I liked Harvey Pekar, but Robert is a national treasure.

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  29. is this blog post self parody, like crumb's cartoons'?

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  30. Nope. This blog post is straight from Robert's mouth about how he feels about an interview he was talked into doing.

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    1. Thank you for all this, Eden Bee. There's an article at Jezebel today about this truly horrible writer Hyzagi burning all his bridges at Elle. Which led me to the Observer article, that was some of the worst writing I've ever read. And I think I saw your link in the comments there, which brought me here.. whoo, down the rabbit hole! :O

      Appreciate your posting (the great) R. Crumb's reply to this guy's chop-job article. Awfully nice too to see comics creators and journalists I "know" in the comments, too. Great job. Best to you!

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  31. Haha thanks! Robert wrote it and I just posted it and spread it around.

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  32. Living in the future Phil K. Dick described. Bots are watching. Oids are listening. SJWs are lurking.

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  33. There are some great journalists but most are a shower of reptiles.

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  34. I think feeling a wee bit angry towards the banks is warranted.

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  35. I've shared this....thanks for posting it. Mr. Crumb nailed it when he said he should have listened more to his inner paranoia! Glad he's setting the record straight. Whenever you read something which contradicts pretty much everything you know from people who've met the person in question, alarms begin to go off, and they certainly did when I read the Observer article.

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  36. Robert's ego is where his libido used to be. But I don't worry, all this Hyzagi shit didn't harm him in my eyes. Why the excuses in the first place? Keep on keeping on Robert!

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  37. When the Observer piece was first published, the entire time I was reading it I kept thinking that there was something "off" and awkward about the article. The first thing that came to mind was how the interviewer was really grating with all the talking about himself he was doing, as if trying to score "hip points" or something. He practically made himself the article the first time around and then actually did with that idiotic "rebuttal" published in The Observer.

    As cynical as I am, I don't think I've ever read an article with an artist that was as warped and dishonest as what was published in the Observer piece.

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  38. I read the original article before I read this. I thought some things about it sounded odd for R. Crumb to say but I blew it off. I have followed R. Crumb long enough that I feel like I get him and understand him. In fact allot of the article wasn't worth reading because to an old fan it's old news. Sorry Crumb.

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