Jeffrey Lewis Anxiety Attack
One of my favorite jokes on the original Muppet Show series is a throw-away comment by one of the Statler and Waldorf duo about how the only papers he reads are the New York Times and the Manchester Guardian. It works on several levels, and seems to have been likely constructed thus. On the surface it’s the throwaway comment that indicates he has no clue what, exactly, the other has said. The content of the comment is inclusive with regards to the two primary english speaking audiences of the show – American and British (note: the show was produced in the UK, and the episodes broadcast there had a greater length, typically including a muppet version of an English music hall standard that was omitted in the US version); and, possibly most humorously, the Guardian had dropped ‘Manchester’ from it’s masthead many years earlier – in 1959 – thus playing on the aged dottiness of the character. I only bring this up, because, in my experience, the talented and well traveled cartoonist and musician Jeffrey Lewis has only ever received much press attention from the Guardian and, now, The New York Times. Good work if you can get it, as they say. Create hopelessly obscure personal work, get all but ignored by the underground but routinely receive notice(s) from the best of the mainstream press. So, in keeping with this (perceived) tradition, a nearly decade-old song of Jeffrey’s is given full play by the artist himself in both text and comic form in the New York Times. The NYT itself having recently come under some scrutiny for cartoonist hiring tactics. Although not any kind of clinician, physician, pediatrician, psycheotrician myself, this sounds more like good old-fashioned insomnia to me and not a proper anxiety attack being described in the song. As mentioned somewhere in there, Jeffrey also does the music for Jon Ronson’s series Esc and Ctrl, which is well worth a view anyways.