EDITOR’S NOTE: Alex Fine is Phawker’s in-house artist, he’s the guy that does all those cartoons everybody loves. Fat kids, skinny kids, even kids with chicken pox. He is also responsible for the infamous Saira Rao illustration. Let me just take a minute here to give the drummer some: Alex Fine is a motherfucking AWESOME artist and a gentleman and a scholar. He also rocks. Literally. And for all the above reasons we wear him on our masthead with extreme pride and, um, prejudice.
Thanks for sending me the letter. Haha I never thought I’d find myself being compared to a racist or a homophobe but here we are. I wrote her back letting her know that her assumptions couldn’t be any farther from the truth and even apologized a little if she was offended. But after reading through her letter again I wish I never sent her the email. Jeff made a good point about US Weekly. She works for a publication that prides itself on cheap shots at the expense of others along with middle school gossip. Thanks for writing her back and defending the art.
P.S. These are illustrations [top and bottom of this post] from an artist named Yuko Shimizu that I have always been influenced by. She works often for the Village Voice (same as Nita from what I have seen) and has never been criticized for being hateful. I guess Nita just has it in for Russian Jews like myself haha.
UPDATE: Fables Of The Reconstruction weighs in and decries anti-Semitism in Chambermaid, to wit:
Funny. Even funnier is that Nita Rao would call a depiction of her sister in the pose of a hindu god a “repellant racist illustration” and “a cheap, bigoted joke” when her sister’s novel contains this scene:
In the novel?s climax, the judge?s husband dies after long illness, and the cognitive dissonance of the grotesquery overwhelms the putative narrative. According to Raj, Judge Friedman works all through her husband?s illness, curses out his doctors, then dragoons her clerks into organizing a shivah. The shivah scene itself is a nightmare. The judge reads a prepared speech about her husband?s archaeological work; other relatives manage to soil both themselves and Friedman?s clerks with not one but two forms of bodily waste.
By the end of this abasement, a counter-narrative has all but driven the official one from the stage. A distraught woman screams at her husband?s doctors with hopeless hope to plead for any chance to save him. When he wanders off, naked and disoriented, she is unable to deal with the pain of seeing this brilliant former scholar reduced to such a state. She throws herself into her work but can?t keep the grief from breaking through. Her family, never much given to public displays of affection, struggles awkwardly through the shivah, not knowing what to say. And her clerks are too busy flirting with each other to give the deceased?s sister an honest answer about whether the bread is wheat-free, leading directly to severe digestive trouble.
You know what’s “a cheap, bigoted joke”? Making shit and puke jokes about a religious ceremony marking the real-life death of someone’s long-time husband. And I forget what it is, but there’s a word for people who lampoon Jews and Judaism as a whole. Reading her letter to Phawker, I see Nita Rao’s got a good vocabulary; maybe she knows what it is.
FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION: Oy Gevalt!
SUFFOLK CENTER OF THE HOLOCAUST, DIVERSITY & HUMAN UNDERSTANDING: During the 19th and 20 century, exaggerated nationalism, combined and fortified with distorted racial theories, forgeries and scurrilous and slanderous document about the Jews paved the road to Hitler and Nazi anti-Semitism and racism.