Welcome to Ink Vault. Goodbye to 2022
On Beginnings and Endings
Ink Vault Returns
Eight years ago, I had a newsletter called Ink Vault. It was a sort of sketchbook/ meditative road diary, that I loved deeply and then stopped doing when work came and ate my life. Now, I want to bring it back. The internet has changed so much in the meantime. Twitter ever more closely resembles a summer camp of the world’s most disagreeable boys. Instagram pivoted so hard to video it broke. Facebook? What do you need to say? And I’m not going to let TikTok train me like Pavlov’s dog. I find myself missing the old internet of words — of conversation, not decontextualized shrieking. This is my attempt to bring that back into my life.
I hope you enjoy Ink Vault II. You can expect occasional dispatches from nightclubs and war zones, sketches, experiments, and bits of historical gossip I came across writing my endless book on the Jewish Labor Bund. I’m so grateful to you all for enabling me to live as a crazy, bohemian artist, and to make my work from words and ink. Thank you for sticking around.
Goodbye to 2022
Perhaps I feel moved to go to this new, digital home because in 2022, we lost our physical one. Or rather, we were kicked out. A shadowy LLC bought the building where me and Fred had been for the last twelve years and promptly evicted everyone who lived there. We had ninety days to pack up our lives. The place is now locked up, the electricity shut off. In a few years, they’ll probably tear it down.
We’re in South Williamsburg now, where I lived when I was twenty and which will always be Los Sures in my heart. I’m drawing portraits of my neighbors.
Sad as I was to move, I love my new home so much more.
– I visited Ukraine this August, during the short spell when the war seemed to have been pushed back to the East. I travelled by night train through this magnificent country, to Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa, and also to Bucha where Russians committed some of their most notorious atrocities. I wrote about the experience for New York Review of Books. I got to speak more about my trip on Democracy Now, alongside my friend, Ukrainian motorcyclist Anna Grechishkina. Anna is now volunteering in Kherson. You can send her money here.
– I also travelled around Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to research my book on the Jewish Labor Bund.
I drew Riga’s art nouveau splendor.
I used my Yiddish to talk to old men in near abandoned synagogues in cities whose names used to be Dvinsk and Vilna.
– I made murals at the DSA HQ, and also at both locations of the scrumptious Georgian restaurant Cheeseboat
– I wrote about the corporate theft behind generative “art” AIs for The LA Times. I raged at the murder of Roe for Forever Wars. I gave an elegiac portrait of New York’s last secular Yiddish bookstore, CYCO books for The New York Review of Books (the store has since been saved). I also wrote the introduction for Katherine Dunn’s long-lost early novel Toad, and a catalog essay for Boris Lurie’s exhibit at the Center for Jewish Heritage.
– I started a series of portraits of my beautiful friends, in my great grandmother’s wingback chair. I decided that I needed more beauty in my life, overall.
– My 2021 piece “How the Taxi Workers Won,” co-published by The Nation and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, was awarded the 2022 Debra E. Bernhardt Labor Journalism Prize, along with a bunch of other prizes that I forgot about. The best part was how the drivers came to the awards ceremony.
– I did dozens of portraits to help promote my friend Stephen Thrasher’s new book The Viral Underclass
– I signed to illustrate Tiger Slayer, a young adult book about Mughal empress Nur Jahan by my dear friend and the great historian Ruby Lal. I can’t show you our art yet but it is sumptuous.
Most of all, Fred and I built out our new place here in Brooklyn, a place I hope is as legendary and notorious as that old loft on Maiden Lane. It was such a wreck when we moved in, and so many friends have helped make it into a home. I wake up and feel surrounded with love.
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