Virtual Memories Show 266:
Steven Heller

“I would look at other people’s design work and realize they have something I don’t have. What I do have is an ability to judge work, to come up with ideas.”

Design scholar Steven Heller joins the show to talk about writing and editing more than 182 books on design and its history (and lamenting the books he still wants to do). We get into his evolution from cartooning to graphic design, how he became a scholar of satiric magazines, what went into building the MFA entrepreneurial design program at School of Visual Arts, and the maybe too-encompassing use of the word “design”. We also talk about the transition from print to digital media, how he manages to keep up a daily blog, his career at the New York Times (designing the op/ed page and the Book Review, and occasionally writing obits), his legacy, how he’s dealing with Parkinson’s syndrome, how a terrible student can become a good teacher, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy The Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design & some of Steven’s other books!

“I don’t think of my legacy too often. I think of death, but not legacy.”

“If you use language in an arcane way, no one understands you. If you’re talking in an accessible way, everyone understands you and uses the language as a substitute for meaning.”

“I often think of the work that my students have to do, the challenges they have to overcome, and the problems they have to solve, as things I wouldn’t have the patience for.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Steven Heller, co-chair and co-founder of SVA MFA Design / Designer as Author + Entrepreneur Program, was a Senior Art Director at The New York Times for 33 years (the Op-Ed page and then the Book Review). He was editor of AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, Visuals columnist for NY Times Book Review, contributing writer for Atlantic and Wired, and contributing editor for Print magazine, where he continues to write The Daily Heller online. The author, editor or co-author of over 180 books on design and popular culture, his most recent is The Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design (from Abrams) (with Greg D’Onofrio) and Free Hand: New Typography Sketchbooks (from Thames & Hudson) (with Lita Talarico). He is the recipient of the 1999 AIGA Medal and the 2011 National Design Award for “Design Mind” as well as honorary doctorates at The College For Creative Studies in Detroit and The University of West Bohemia in the Czech Republic.


Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Prof. Heller’s office in SVA on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Prof. Heller & his office by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 263:
Jonathan Ames

“For me, all writing — scripts, essays, novels — it comes down to enjoying writing a sentence.”

On the eve of the premiere of You Were Never Really Here, writer Jonathan Ames returns to his stomping grounds of northern NJ to talk about crime novels, the literary pilgrimages of his youth, getting laughs at AA meetings, and more. We get into the process of seeing his novella adapted into film, his decade-long fascination with Richard Stark’s Parker novels, the catharses and paradoxes of his confessional writing, learning on the fly to write for TV and working with a writers’ room for Bored to Death and Blunt Talk, the experience of studying creative writing at Princeton under Joyce Carol Oates, learning The Secret to stop being cheap with himself, his favorite writing form (given that he’s made novels, stories, columns, nonfiction, films, TV, and comics), the act of subsuming himself into fictional characters, the bizarre error on his IMDB page that left me totally flummoxed, and the amazing NJ coincidence of one of the locations used in the movie. Give it a listen! And go buy You Were Never Really Here and go catch the movie!

“With this movie being made of my book, it’s like I’m throwing a party, but I’m not invited.”

“In the novel, you can do everything. The reader is there, collaborating with you. You’re making that art together.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Jonathan Ames is the author of the novels I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, Wake Up, Sir!, the graphic novel The Alcoholic (illustrated by Dean Haspiel), the novella You Were Never Really Here, and the essay collections What’s Not to Love?, My Less Than Secret Life, I Love You More Than You Know, and The Double Life Is Twice as Good. He is the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs, and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also the creator of two television shows: the HBO series Bored to Death and the STARZ series Blunt Talk. His novel The Extra Man was made into a film starring Kevin Kline, and You Were Never Really Here has been adapted for the screen, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at my home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Ames by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 262:
Jerry Moriarty

“I wouldn’t be anybody if it weren’t for my Art Card.”

Paintoonist (painter + cartoonist) Jerry Moriarty joins the show to talk about playing the Art Card all his life. We get into the genesis of his Jack Survives comics and his recent book, Whatsa Paintoonist? (Fantagraphics), his 50 years teaching at SVA, his move back to his childhood home in upstate NY in his 70s, the role of memory in art, his evolution from AbEx to Pop Art to representational to paintooning (with a sideline in magazine illustration), his experience playing at CBGB’s with the Steel Tips, his evening with Willem De Kooning, the belief that talent is a scam, why he doesn’t sell his paintings (and who he’s hoping to bequeath his paintings to), and a lot more! Give it a listen! And go buy Whatsa Paintoonist? & The Complete Jack Survives!

“It’s not the art itself, it’s the memory of the art, the memory the art evokes. So I wouldn’t just be selling a picture; I’d be selling the memory of the picture. Art has a whole life different than we’re used to seeing.”

“There’s no wrong way of drawing, except don’t hide behind something. Don’t cartoon it because you can’t draw it.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Jerry Moriarty is a painter and cartoonist (self-described as “paintoonist”) from New York. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Pratt institute, and his best known work in cartooning is the comic Jack Survives. He taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York City for 50 years. His most recent book is Whatsa Paintoonist?.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Jerry’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Moriarty & his work by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 258:
Willard Spiegelman

“When you review old pieces, you have a double-sided response: On the one hand, it’s ‘Gosh, how was I so smart? How could I write such a beautiful sentence?’ On the other hand, it’s ‘Gosh, what a piece of crap! How I could I be so banal, so jejune, so ignorant?’ The combination of legitimate pride and legitimate embarrassment is a standard one.”

Critic and essayist Willard Spiegelman returns to the show to talk about his new book, If You See Something, Say Something: A Writer Looks at Art (SMU Press), collecting his art reviews from the Wall Street Journal. We get into the notion of legacy after his retirement from 45 years of teaching, then tackle the process of learning to look at paintings, his favorite museums, the question of whether Hockney’s happiness makes him less of an artistic genius than grim/tormented artists, whether one should buy art to match one’s furniture, his love of Marfa, TX, the differences between being a pilgrim and a tourist, the role of curiosity as a remedy for boredom, the challenge of editing a literary magazine in this day and age, whether he’s a role model to younger gay people, the first time he had a student who was the child of one of his first students (that is, when he realized he was getting old), and more! Give it a listen! And go buy If You See Something, Say Something!

“One of the things I’m proud of is that, as a teacher, I’m still learning from teachers. Not university teachers, but dance teachers, swimming instructors, yoga teachers. When you hear somebody putting you through your paces, you learn how they teach.”

“Stoner is not a book to give to a man who has just retired from being an English teacher after 45 years. I was on the train, reading the last 30-40 pages, and I was in tears. I was so glad there were few people on the train with me to see me embarrassing myself.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Willard Spiegelman recently retired from his role as the Hughes Professor of English at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where since 1971 he taught generations of students how to read, to write, and to think. From 1984 until 2016, he was also the editor in chief of Southwest Review. He has written many books and essays about English and American poetry. For more than thirty years, he has been a regular contributor to the Leisure and Arts pages of The Wall Street Journal. He has two previous appearances on The Virtual Memories Show in 2013 and 2016.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Willard’s NYC apartment on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Spiegelman by me. It’s on my instagram.

Virtual Memories Show 256:
Lauren Weinstein

“Comics are a way to process events in your life. You put it down on the page, and it has its own life, and you’re able to move away from it.”

Village Voice cartoonist Lauren Weinstein joins the show to talk about the balancing act of making comics. We get into how she integrates the political and the personal, finds humor alongside near-tragedy, and deals with the temptation to do self-help/identity comics. We also get into how she manages the tightrope walk of motherhood and comics-making (esp. with a 10-month-old who’s constantly grabbing for her ink), the conversation around a comic she did about potentially passing along a hereditary disease to her unborn daughter, the moral tensions of teaching comics, drawing strips for digital vs. print, the transformative effect of reading Dan Clowes’ Art School Confidential strip, having an on-stage persona for a mutant band where the mantra was “keep your eye off the ball”, needing neck surgery but worrying how paralysis would affect her cartooning, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy her latest Normel Person mini-comic!

“There’s a part of motherhood that’s all about you. There’s a part that’s all about the kid. Trying to balance those things can be difficult.”

“When I went to art school, it was very uncool to do anything involving narrative.”


Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Lauren Weinstein’s highly acclaimed comic strip, Normel Person, can be found weekly in the Village Voice. Sometimes her work can be spotted in the New Yorker and The Guardian and The Paris Review. She has published three books: Girl Stories, Inside Vineyland and Goddess of War. Currently she is working on a teenage memoir tentatively entitled Calamity, to be published by Henry Holt, and a comic about motherhood for the publisher Youth in Decline.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at stately Virtual Memories Manor on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Ms. Weinstein by me. It’s on my instagram.