OMG IT’S A WIENER DOG CHRISTMAS!! How g-d cute are these cards?? They are from veggie artist and Vegansaurus BFF Jen Oaks, who is the most talented. Seriously, look at her stuff. JUST LOOK AT IT! Also, how amazing is this Oklahoma Animals posters? Every kid in your life needs it. And adult. And I’ll take three! Seriously, email and I’ll give you my address. I mean my P.O. box I DON’T KNOOOOOW YOU.*
*PSYCH! I ain’t got no POB. Who do I look like? Someone who has their shit together?? No, I will give you my actual address to send love letters to/ask for money (I’m flush! act now, people!), and/or stalk and kill. Whatevs!
Interview: Alexis Barrera! »
Alexis Barrera is a photographer and cartoonist living in New York and he’s totally vegetarian! You can check out his comics at Oaktowncrack.com. He’s my new pal and was kind enough to do an interview for vegansaurus!
Where were you born?
I was born in Mexico City and lived there for 11 years before moving to America. I hear that’s like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 11 years.
When/why did you move to SF? How long did you live there?
My parents moved to San Francisco in ‘88, and I stayed with them until ‘94 when I moved away to college.
When did you move to Oakland?
I moved back to San Francisco in ‘99 and then over to Oakland in 2000. I stayed put there for 9 years.
When/why did you move to New York?
After 20 years in the Bay Area, I was starting to feel like a townie. I wasn’t ready to settle down, so it became time to make the obligatory pilgrimage to New York.
I moved to the Greenpoint YMCA on April Fool’s day of 2009 and moved to Manhattan 10 days later. The residents of the YMCA could really use some advice on nutrition, let me tell you.
How long have you been vegetarian?
I hated most meat as a kid, and would only eat hamburgers and hotdogs as a teenager. I stopped eating meat altogether in the fall of ‘96.
Are you vegetarian for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
Initially I quit for health reason, but nowadays when I guilt-trip carnivores I also bring up animal cruelty and the environment.
Do you ever include a vegetarian message in your comics?
Definitely. Here’s an example [“Munchy” left; drawn after watching Super Size Me].
Do you have a day job, or do you draw comics full-time?
I’m a programmer by day; the rest of the time I think of myself as a sequential artist.
I’m better known for my photography than my drawings, but it’s all the same to me.
Who are some of your favorite cartoonists, vegan/vegetarian or not?
The best vegan cartoonist I can think of is Dan Piraro. I’m not sure what R. Crumb, Keiji Nakazawa, or Art Spiegelman eat…but it probably had a nervous system at some point.
Can you draw animals really well? Can you draw me as an animal? Will you do a portrait of Figaro for free? Yes?
Here’s a daguerreotype of Figaro on his way to the opera, circa 1877:
[Megan Rascal note: AWESOME!!! Exclamation point!!!]
My two tabbies live in California with their kitty mama. They were abducted from a feral colony when they were kittens, and are inseparable, as you can tell from this photograph:
What is your favorite animal?
Besides my tabbies, I’ve grown quite fond of French Bulldogs, the official pet of the city of New York.
Favorite vegan food to make?
I’m a terrible cook, but my housemate makes delicious ratatouille.We don’t eat it with cheese.
How does New York compare to the Bay Area, in terms of vegan and vegetarian food?
I haven’t lived in New York long enough to make a fair comparison, restaurant-wise. So far I haven’t had trouble finding meatless meals.
Based on food options alone, which is your favorite comics show to travel to?
Wondercon in San Francisco is within walking distance of a trillion good eateries.
Any tips for traveling cartoonists?
Find a place to stay on couchsurfing.com…and don’t walk around with headphones at night, that’s always a terrible idea.
Do you have one drawing tip to share?
I put together a cross-hatching tutorial here.
What’s the deal with Oaktown Crack Comics?
Society marginalizes drug addicts while encouraging all other forms of over-consumption. Crackheads, tweakers, and junkies aren’t any more evil than investment bankers and obese couch potatoes [Ed.: That’s half of our writers. Watch your back, bro!], so we should all be more tolerant and focus on harm reduction instead of arbitrary law enforcement. Oaktown Crack Comics attempt to depict drug addicts more accurately and with a little compassion.
Life in SF seemed to play a big role in your comics, do you think New York will have a similar influence?
I like to think that my comics aren’t particularly SF-centric, but rather slum-centric. New York’s fringe scene is less overt and the authorities here are disgustingly oppressive, so I’m sure I’ll be drawing comics about that soon.
What exciting upcoming projects can we look forward to?
I’m writing an instructional booklet on using 3D software to create 2D comics and animations that look hand-drawn.
Further down the road, I’m trying to combine Naked Lunch and a modern physics textbook into some sort of sci-fi graphic novel. I’ve got a bunch of scripts about what happens in between Big Bangs.
Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
Know where I can get good vegan winter boots? I don’t want my toes to fall off.
A: Check Steve’s men’s winter boot round-up!
Animal parts everywhere: the return of pig 05049 »
You remember pig 05049, of course; we introduced you last year September, when Christien Meindertsma’s three-year-long project cataloguing the 185 products that some of pig 05049 went into making was first released. Since then, she has published a book, also called PIG 05049, and given a TED Talk. Forewarning: she is absolutely adorable.
[can’t see the video? watch it at vegansaurus.com!]
How many of the items that Christien named did you already know? How many were a horrible, disgusting surprise? Observing a vegan lifestyle is wayyyyy more than neither eating nor wearing any animal products, you know? And even that isn’t a (dairy-free) cakewalk! Of course it’s good and admirable and lovely and everyone should abstain from eating and wearing animal products. That would be wonderful, and we are certainly entitled to stop there.
But is that enough? How much more work do you want to do to make your life even more animal-free? Obviously for most of us it’s easy to avoid bullets, and really you oughtn’t smoke cigarettes anyway, so that’s easy too, but the dough softener—do you even get a warning there?
Thank goodness for sites like Barnivore, checking your booze for you. Who wants to be the Barnivore of tools—Garagivore? (you can have that one for free.) Barnivore maybe should start a small empire of sites that research the veganness of everyday items. I would contribute to that, because dang it would be useful.
It’s good to call attention to all the uses people have for all the parts of one pig. As Christien says, perhaps it will teach pig-eaters to respect an animal from whom we take so much to make so many valuable items. And what do vegans learn, aside from GROSS there’s bone in my sandpaper what the goddamn? Is a truly vegan lifestyle impossible in our every-part-of-the-pig-in-every-room-in-your-house society?
I say no—we’ve got to have hope left. Life is just one punch in the face after another; at least let us try to be cruelty-free. But, really: What do you think?
Local Flavor at Fabric8: Food and art as more than chocolate syrup in your spin-n-swirl »
untitled, by Nome Edonna
Vegansaurus love food, obviously! We also love art, which maybe doesn’t come across so clearly, but we appreciate culture across the spectrum, as we’re sure you must, too. Human beings are sort of obligated to evolve, emotionally and culturally and philosophically and all that, what with our great big capacious brains ready for us to fill them.
You’ll have an opportunity to consider food and art tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 8 at “Local Flavor,” a group show of Bay Area artists’ work “focusing on the centuries-old relationship between the visual and culinary arts” at Fabric8 gallery. The exhibition is curated by Tamara Palmer (of, among other publications, SFoodie blog) and Fabric8, and will feature works by artists like Brandon Dicks, Nome Edonna, Rachel Major, Jason Mecier, Phokos, Reuben Rude, and Andy Stattmiller. Great? Great!
Divine, by Jason Mecier
Greater: Olivia Ongpin of Fabric8 says that every Friday for the duration of the exhibition—through Nov. 1—the gallery will host food vendors, both their regular rotation of food carts and “street food served up by local restaurants.” She also says that even though they haven’t set the menus for each Friday yet, Fabric8 “always try to have a vegan option.”
Greatest: The opening reception for “Local Flavor” is at Fabric8 gallery at 3318 22nd St. (at San Jose Avenue) from 7 to 10 p.m. Ms. Ongpin tells us that Soul Cocina will be there, and she “will make sure he brings something vegan.” Isn’t she lovely? Now you have NO EXCUSE not to go and look at the art, which you should do anyway because remember, we’re humans and we should always be learning, or at least trying new things. Also your Vegansaurus may have implicitly obligated you to eat the vegan artistic food. Regardless: Culture: get some.
This made me really happy and really sad, all at once. Maybe that farmer is vegan and that pig is his best friend and will live a long, happy life. Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna believe. Now, time to go watch the dog video again.
Does your cat have what it takes?! »
If there’s anything we learned from the recent posts about ponies and cat models, everyone wants their pet to be a superstar. But they don’t roll out of the SPCA looking like Joe Jonas! It takes training! It takes practice! Luckily, artist Lucy Knisley has created what is basically THE cat modeling bible. Seriously kitties, don’t embarrass yourselves on your next go-see—learn the poses! Be the dream!
My kind of politics!: Dachshund U.N. »
It’s art! It’s adorable! It’s my dream come true! Aussie artist Bennett Miller created Dachshund U.N. for Melbourne’s 2010 Next Wave Festival. There’s some sort of symbolism in this performance piece but really, OMG dachshunds pretending to be the U.N.! Adorbs.
This is from the Next Wave site:
Dachshund U.N. is both a joyful and chaotic experiment, and a meditation on the utopian aspirations of the Commission on Human Rights, and our capacity as humans to imagine and achieve a universal system of justice. Audiences are invited to these exclusive live viewings of the operations of the Dachshund U.N., where 47 specially recruited dachshunds will engage in rigorous debate.
AWESOME. I don’t really get why they’re dachshunds. But I like it! For more pictures, check out this slideshow from Life. I also found this cute behind-the-scenes look into the project, OMG!:
[Found that top picture here.]
One day we could all shit Clorox courtesy of SCIENCE! »
If you couldn’t tell by my disco PSA, I love the pigeons. They usually pretend to be aloof but I can tell they love me too. This is why I keep up on the pigeon news—always looking out for my pals! And let me tell you, there is some pigeon news! It’s kind of freaky news—frews, if you will. Not only do pigeons have to eat your trash, now people want them to poop bleach! Go team science!
Well it’s not actually bleach, that’s just some decorative language I added because I’m an artist and my new medium is lying. They want to make pigeons shit “biological soap” through the magic of synthetic biology. I looked up synthetic biology and in this case it means, “the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for useful purposes.” And since animals exist to make our lives easier, let’s biologically synthesize some damn pigeons already! Or as Tuur van Balen, the brains behind this, puts it, “add new functionality to what is by many seen as flying rats” (oh daaamn, are you rat-lovers going to take that?). This is awesome because while I already love pigeons, functional pigeons sound so much better! GOD I already can’t STAND all these dysfunctional pigeons I have to deal with everyday! With their drinking problems and abusive relationships—I’m over it!
So what’s the plan?! Well, they are going to feed pigeons a special bacteria with their food. Van Balen claims this bacteria is—get ready for this!—“as harmless to them as eating yoghurt is to us.” UM EARTH TO VAN BALEN! Dairy is the devil! DUH. But the bacteria will somehow change their metabolism and ta dah! Soap poop.
The article goes on to discuss the other implications this kind of thing could have. He’s working on synthetic immune systems where it’s totally tailored to your body. And guess what! The example he gives is for vegetarians! The synthetic immune system could monitor your B12 levels and produce some more if they are low. Hold up, that’s kind of BADASS. But the pigeon stuff, I don’t know. I don’t think we should go around fucking with animals just because we can. And when you add new things to the environment, there’s always potential for disaster. Like the salt we use to melt snow, now it’s all in the rivers and what not, screwing things up.
My final vote: Leave the damn pigeons alone. Freaks.
Hey L.A.! The Getty Museum has an exhibition on right now called “In Focus: Tasteful Pictures” that’s exclusively food photographs. Moreover, all 150 pieces are “non-digital” photos, they come from the Museum’s permanent collection although some have never been shown before, and the earliest is from the mid-19th century. Fancy! If I were there, I would go. This L.A. Times article makes it sound interesting enough, anyway, plus art education is important! And photography is pretty easy to appreciate (i.e., “like,” i.e., “understand what’s going on,”), I think. Whatever, I don’t know anything, but I like looking at representations of food, and it’s so common now you forget that it can be more than an illustration of your meal. HA, look at me “discussing” art. The above photograph is called Still Life with Fruit and Decanter, shot in 1860 in London by Roger Fenton.
Hey L.A.! The Getty Museum has an exhibition on right now called “In Focus: Tasteful Pictures” that’s exclusively food photographs. Moreover, all 150 pieces are “non-digital” photos, they come from the Museum’s permanent collection although some have never been shown before, and the earliest is from the mid-19th century. Fancy! If I were there, I would go. This L.A. Times article makes it sound interesting enough, anyway, plus art education is important! And photography is pretty easy to appreciate (i.e., “like,” i.e., “understand what’s going on,”), I think. Whatever, I don’t know anything, but I like looking at representations of food, and it’s so common now you forget that it can be more than an illustration of your meal.
HA, look at me “discussing” art.
The above photograph is called Still Life with Fruit and Decanter, shot in 1860 in London by Roger Fenton.