The Young Punks of Disneyland
I’m standing in front of Space Mountain worrrying I won’t be able to find the Neverlanders Social Club. It’s an ordinary Sunday in Disneyland in November—sunny and beautiful in that Californian way and packed to the gills with tourists—and I’m concerned I’ll miss them in all the hubbub. They told me they’d be decked out in their Disney gear, but a lot of people here are wearing park-themed merchandise. Then I see them coming and realize there was no way I could have missed them.
There are more than 30 Neverlanders moving toward me as a pack, cutting a path through the crowd. They’re wearing handmade mouse ears and hats, and many of them are covered in tattoos—they look like one of the minor gangs from The Warriors, or some cult in a postapocalyptic wasteland where Mickey Mouse is worshiped as a deity. Each member has a patch of a character that represents his or her personality—the 30-something couple who founded the club, Angel and Cindy Mendoza, are Donald and Daisy Duck.
Everyone is staring as I walk with them to It’s a Small World, a boat ride at the tip of Fantasyland. As we round the Matterhorn Bobsleds, “regular” park-goers snap photos of the Neverlanders as if they’re celebrities. People point; parents tell their children to take note; jaws drop. Angel says with a shrug that they’re used to this commotion by now. When you’re the biggest Disneyland fans in the world and wear that love on your sleeve—literally—you’re bound to get some odd looks.
VICE: You grew up in New York. What do you think of how the city has changed?
Art Spiegelman: Don’t get me started. If there was another New York, I’d move to it.
Is New York still a place where a young artist can get started?
You can’t. Go to Germany kids. Maybe Budapest if you’re not Jewish. But this is something that I’m remembering from interviewing Al Hirschfeld. He had lived in Paris for a number of years when he was just out of college.
I asked “Did you know Picasso?” And he says, “Yeah. I’d see him at Gertrude’s House.”
So we were off and running and I said, “What was it in Paris? The graphic design was good, the painting was good, the writing was good, the architecture was good. Was there something in the water?” He goes, “Nah. Cheap real estate. I got that place I was living in for the equivalent of $300 a year.” At those rates, you can find out if you’re an artist or not.
That’s what’s gone from New York and that’s an irreconcilable loss. Though in New York one should always be grateful for the rapid degree of change. Maybe SoHo will become a slum. It’s possible.
Spongebob Squarepants: Egypt’s Revolutionary New Symbol
On a Friday afternoon this past June, a new wave of pro-democracy demonstrations roiled downtown Cairo. Protestors were angry that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq, had advanced to the runoff in the country’s historic presidential election.
In the midst of the turmoil, a young activist with black-rimmed glasses, his fist raised skyward, led the crowd in chants against the old regime. He was easy to spot, perched atop a comrade’s shoulders, and wearing a bright yellow T-shirt emblazoned with the image of the beloved yellow undersea creature of animated children’s television, SpongeBob Squarepants.
SpongeBob is a familiar sight in Tahrir Square nowadays. The vendors in the square hawking Egyptian flags and shirts printed with revolutionary slogans almost always also sell SpongeBob-branded T-shirts. The casual visitor to the square in early 2013 might even wonder if SpongeBob has become, like the ubiquitous Che Guevara shirts or the spooky Guy Fawkes masks made popular by the film V for Vendetta, a bizarre transnational pop culture symbol of resistance.
Shereif Elkeshta, an Egyptian-American filmmaker who travels frequently between New York and Cairo, said he first noticed the bright yellow shirts during a visit to the square last May, over a year after the revolution. “Suddenly it was no longer about hurriya [freedom] ath-thawra [the revolution] or 25th of January, it just became T-shirts, and SpongeBob, maybe it’s just the New Yorker in me, but SpongeBob? Do these people even know what SpongeBob is?”
Elkeshta later cited the SpongeBob phenomenon in an essay about the incoherent state of politics in Egypt in an independent monthly paper called Midan Masr. He wrote, “Why isn’t he [SpongeBob] at least holding a Molotov cocktail? Or raising a fist?”
So is SpongeBob a revolutionary icon? You can almost see it. The shirts are bright yellow, giving them a visual pop appropriate for demonstrations. SpongeBob is an optimistic character who gained a substantial following in Egypt soon after it began airing in translation with the launch of Nickelodeon Arabia in 2008.
Brian: The Powder Puff girls.
Are they sexy?
I don’t know. There are three of them, so they’ve got that going for them.
Yeah. It’d be like a burrito. All kinds of shit in there.
Damn, dude. We’re pretty sure they’re supposed to be kids.
"When he’s not skating or making videos for boys who skate, Sam Taylor draws unshaven, boggle-eyed slackers, tastefully detailed with stains, veins, wrinkles, creases, stubble, and double chins. They usually have a cigarette dangling from the corner of their mouths and an Efes (the Turkish beer they sell at theDalston snooker club with the same name) in their hands.”
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