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This Week In ‘What Now’: Eli Valley, Biden vs. Godzilla, Sheep, Baldness, and Much More

Everything our Stewards got this week.

The Discourse Blog starling shouting, "What Now"

Hey heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey! It’s our weekly roundup of our subscriber-only newsletter, What Now! This week our Steward tier members got:

—An interview with peerless, fearless cartoonist and satirist Eli Valley

—Rafi’s thoughts on Godzilla, baldness, the future, and more.

—And, of course, Man What the Hell?!

We’ll show off some of this great material in a moment, but first, a reminder: What Now is our newsletter that we send out exclusively to our Steward tier members three times a week. It contains:

—Exclusive interviews with good, smart people (like Eli!)

—Our Group Chat mailbag where we answer your questions about whatever you want

—Our take on a lot of news we couldn’t get to on the website

—Rafi’s “Man, What the Hell?” weekly news roundup, which now lives in What Now.

—And more!

You can get all of this if you subscribe to our Steward tier. It’s just $10 a month or $100 a year, and in return, you get What Now in your inbox, plus access to all of the stuff on our website, and the ability to comment on posts, and a link to our private Discord server. Doesn’t that sound great?


OK, let’s get to the previews.

On Monday, Rafi talked to Eli Valley, possibly the preeminent satirist of our current hell:

Rafi: Have you just spent the past year sitting in your apartment drawing?

Eli: A bit. Like in the summer I would go for walks and on occasion, I would meet up with friends — socially distanced of course — in a park, but not frequently.

Rafi: Your productivity has gone way up over the past year, it seems.

Eli: I don’t think it has. People have said to me in the past, when I don’t feel productive, they say, “wow you’re so productive.” I don’t know if I just don’t see it the way other people see it or what. I’m very self-critical of my output and the amount of time and energy I put into each work. But I will say that unlike people who are commuting to an office, the pandemic wasn’t as disruptive for me in that respect, because I’m just sitting at my computer drawing. And so I’ve been fortunate in that regard. But obviously, the social isolation has taken a toll on everyone. 

Rafi: I don’t remember who it was who said it — It might have been Amanda Palmer? [note: it was!]— But someone was like “People are going to make great art in the Trump years.” And it’s like a total indulgent, jerk-off statement. But I feel like you have made great art in the Trump years! How do you see the sort of inspiration that it provided as compared to the work that you’ve done before and the work that you’re doing now that the Trump years are over?

Eli: Prior to the Trump years, I was doing very Jewish communal, Israel-oriented comics and I actually was hoping to move beyond political work and do more, you know, fictional or memoir-ish type of graphic comic art. And then Trump just upended everything. I guess one could argue that he was such a cartoon villain that it’s actually not difficult to be outraged and to make outrage art. But on the other hand, like when you look at a lot of the outrage, especially — and not to be generationally cruel — but the boomer type of shit, I’m sure you’ve seen it. Well, I mean, the obvious stuff is like, you know, homophobic stuff with Putin. You know, that stuff is really, really crappy. But it actually disturbs me because boomers seem to love that stuff. It’s just very disappointing about what people like. So people are outraged. And you can make awful art out of outrage, it turns out. I don’t know what to say about my own art — hopefully it’s not like that. But basically, the criticism that I can see is that because Trump is a cartoon villain, drawing against this cartoon villain is just more self-evident, whereas drawing in a more sort of nuanced and insidious kind of political environment is more challenging, and that might be the case. 

On Wednesday, Rafi answered a ton of reader questions, including this one:

How would the Biden administration respond to a Godzilla-type situation?


Badly. I mean, I’m sure they’d probably say there’s a lot happening “behind the scenes” but that’s little comfort to the helpless citizens of whatever coastal city ‘Zilla decides to level in the meantime. You can’t set up a backroom, bipartisan negotiation to force a fifty-story atomic lizard into incremental disengagement, y’know? I bet Biden would finally launch some sort of military something, but it’d probably be the sort of thing where generals give him a solid plan (sure, it would be doomed to fail nevertheless, but at least it would be proportional to a humongous dragon stomping the Sears Tower into dust) and Biden would say something like “C’mon man, what is this? Are you kiddin’ me?” and then he’d shrink the operation by like 60% and it would become a total debacle. Kamala would have to get up in front of the TV cameras to make a stern face, just so people keep believing that there’s some fight left in the administration, and eventually Godzilla just gets bored and wanders back into the ocean, and probably steps on Biden’s dogs on his way out. Everyone will call this an unqualified victory.

And on Friday, Rafi (yes, he did all of What Now this week!) said “Man, What the Hell?!” about, among other things, this:

Wool-d that it were so simple

I’m not what you’d call a “sheep guy” (not my thing) but even I can recognize that sheering a sheep of more than 77 pounds of wool is simply a ridiculous and preposterous amount of fuzz for a single animal — in this case, an Australian sheep named Baarack — to carry. It was so much wool, in fact, that it was strong enough to rip Baarack’s ear tag out of his face entirely.

As Reuters notes, Baarack seems to have been part of a domesticated flock before he left to brave the outback on his own for a few years, just letting his hair grow long, and vibin’, man.

As Reuters also notes, Baarack “yielded a fleece weighing more than 35 kilogrammes – nearly half the weight of an adult kangaroo” which, frankly, is the only unit of measurement I care about at this point.

Oh and before you ask, while domesticated sheep’s wool will just grow and grow and grow until we get a “half the weight of an adult kangaroo” situation, most wild sheep will just shed their fleece after a while. Nice going, humans.

Wow, just a feast of excellence! Want more? Subscribe to our Steward tier!!! Happy weekend!