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Just Plain Whelmed

This is the Beginning of the Blog

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I am starting a blog here. Let me tell you why.

Last week, I stumbled upon an old friend, in a manner of speaking. During my high school years, I was captivated by the incredible webcomic "Polkout" run by the eponymous Polk Polkster, both named after one of the greatest presidents of the United States, James K. Polk. Out of all of the influences on my sense of humor and life, Polk was one of the biggest. I did not get the chance to tell him so before his website went down, however.

It was not an entirely unforeseen development. His webcomic specialized in transcripts and elaborations of bizarre conversations he had had, many of which centered on very touchy topics. While the nature of such dialogues was obviously absurdist in nature, as was his comic as a whole, there was an obvious repercussions that Polk, being a recent college graduate and looking for employment, could face if he was tied back to his bizarre artwork and rants and thus be denied employment. After all, it is only in a few select circles that an illustrated depiction of a naked John McCain beheading Hello Kitty merchandise-bearing Vietnamese soldiers using Captain America's shield would be considered as a net plus on a job application.

Thus, the website died, and with it all of the comics that had not been saved onto other websites. Which was not a lot. This was a great loss. While memory has preserved some of these comics for me, the vast majority are lost to the sands of time it would seem. Alas, what can you do?

Anyways, one aspect of the old website remains. At the bottom of each comic, Polk would leave a rant, varying vastly in length, relevance, and subject matter. Before the website was taken down, some of these rants managed to be posted onto a blog entitled "Wheels are Feet for Cars", as well as select other film reviews, life stories, and ravings. That blog still exists, although without many of the pictures that were previously hosted on Polkout.com. (Some of the subject matter is NSFW, so delve at your own risk and judgment, friends.)

It was at this website where I rediscovered the sublime beauty and magic of Polk's philosophy, one which I could not hope to distill into words right now. But maybe someday. In-between reviews for the Drake and Josh movie and The Season of the Witch starring Nicholas Cage, there was one line that particularly stuck out to me. When discussing why he was (is?) a fan of Norman Rockwell's paintings, Polk related a conversation where someone told him that all of those pieces of art were "BS" (except he didn't say "BS", if you catch my drift). They depicted happy situations and people that simply did not exist. Polk replied that while it may be BS, it was at least aspirational BS rather than wallowing in self-pity and misery like so much so-called art. (Again, he did not use that acronym, it was not a very child-friendly blog or webcomic.)

For whatever reason, that stuck with me all throughout the last eight days and now I want to try to fill the void that Polk left in the internet by his ascension into the real world. Think of me as a Peter to his Jesus, if you do not find that comparison too egotistical and sacrilegious. Of course, my blog here will abide by all of the rules, regulations, and diktats of the forum, but I will still aim to capture that spirit of irreverence and humor that Polk encapsulated so well. Thus, this blog will contain a similar mixture of reviews of music, literature, movies, etc., musings on and stories of my personal experiences, and rambling on various subjects. (Naturally, those centered on specific Pokemon characters will continue to appear in the Daily Pokemon Opinions thread, as is tradition.)

This is my way of honoring the man who showed me a new way of viewing the world. If none of it really matters, then we get to decide what is most important and what it means. That is an incredible power, folks.

One final note on Mr. Polkster and then I will wrap this up.

The summer after my sophomore year in college, I was interning in Washington, D.C. for a really crummy non-profit (nothing at all like the glorious testament to the indomitability of the human spirit that I am currently employed by) and I found Polk's old e-mail address. With nothing to lose, I sent him an e-mail. To my incredible shock and pleasure, I got a response, and just rereading our exchange got me tearing up a bit. Still, I do not think that I could have put the impact that his work had on me better than I put it in that e-mail:

"Most of my life had been spent living in this bubble of expectations, both of myself and of the world around me, shaped from within and without. Your art broke through that shell and helped me dare to be someone else, to have the courage to look in the mirror and change the parts of me that I didn't like. Without your help, I don't think I could have become my own man. I'm not perfect by any means. I still have doubts. I still screw up. But at least I'm doing those things on my own terms, not just because I'm blindly sleepwalking through my life, not only allowing myself to be pigeonholed, but eagerly conforming to those uncomfortable contortions."
("So why did you write all of that stuff before?" you may ask. To which I say, "Hush.")

Anyways, it is Polk's birthday today and, while I am not self-absorbed enough to think ripping off his idea constitutes a gift for him, I do think that it might be construed as a way to honor him by trying to pass on whatever strange inspiration that he gave me to other people.

Stay beautiful, folks,

KFT

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Updated 12-09-2017 at 06:46 PM by Kentucky Fried Torchic

Tags: polkout, webcomic Add / Edit Tags
Categories
Diary/Journal Entry , Slice of Life , Rants

Comments

  1. Neo Emolga's Avatar
    Geez, it's a shame all that hard work was lost. I know what that's like though. If it can't be saved, keep fond memories of it, but strive to make even better things in the future. I have lost a lot of my earlier novels and while they had qualities to them, they were a bit shabby and I've found ways to make better things that I feel more confident about.

    I think the same applies here. Maybe he'll come up with something just as great, if not better, than this webcomic that you really enjoyed. But even if it doesn't happen, at least you had the chance to enjoy it.