This is the current Bum Steers edition of Texas Monthly. I was honored to be asked back this year by art director T. J. Tucker after doing last year’s Bum Steers cover portrait, Texas governor Rick Perry. Lance Armstrong was the clear winner of this year’s “Texan Who Destroyed His Legacy” sweepstakes, so he has the spotlight. The honorable mentions are:
Glenn Beck and his latest art project. Mr. Beck turned up his crazy to 11 in a desperate attempt for attention with his take on Andre Serrano’s Piss Christ, filling a mason jar with his very own pee and a submerged Obama bobble head. Nice.
Then there’s poor Randy Travis who got drunk, got naked, and got caught by the police. Hey, he’ll look back and laugh. Probably because of all the money he’ll make with his forthcoming hit country song “I may drunk and nude, but at least I ain’t with you”. We originally had Randy more, er, exposed, standing proud in all that God gave him. But the editors wisely observed that we are dealing with possible mental illness, so simply implying a birthday suit would be enough. Good thing because my only option for reference material was myself, and nobody wants to see a naked illustrator. Trust me.
Snoop Dog made the cut for...um..hell he’s Snoop Dog! He should know not to roll like that in the Lone Star State. Who does he think he is, Willie Nelson?
Sshh....Don’t wake Josh Hamilton. He’s slumpering. Really though, I fear for Josh. I’m wondering if his born again self will be able to withstand the temptations of Los Angeles, where sinnin' is how you get ahead.
Not to be forgotten is last year’s cover boy Texas Governor Rick Perry. Now that he’s safely detained in Texas the rest of the country can find him amusing again. What’s that Rick? The teachers should be armed? Oh, you're so cute. Come here, I’m going to give you a noogie.
Oh, look! There's Gary Taxali back there. Man, that guy knows everyone.
And finally the star of the show, Lance Armstrong. World Champion, National Champion, 7 time Tour de France winner, cancer survivor, founder of Livestrong which has helped those afflicted with cancer (including my mother) in more ways than simply raising money for research. Lance was a true American Hero. His story put him more in line with the mythic tales of Paul Bunyan, or John Henry. He became the rare athlete who transcended his physical accomplishments to become a kind of spiritual token for those with cancer looking for a way to believe there's a path back to a normal life.
And then, the inevitable crash of reality. The string of rumors that stuck to his cycling cleats eventually pulled the fabric of his legend apart and we were left with nothing more than what appeared to be a just another greedy, lying,intimidating bully who didn’t care what or who stood in the way of him getting his. Truly heartbreaking for those who wanted to believe that he could be a clean champion in a dark age of doping.
But hey, it makes for a fun picture!
Lance's facial expression was tricky. Too excited and he'd look like a lunatic. Too happy and he'd look like he got away with something ( He did of course, but only for a while).
At one point I flew the idea of Lance being shirtless - he's been stripped of all the Tour de France yellow jerseys he won - and having him with the classic cyclist's tan. No dice. As usual my wife and kids were put to good use as models ( I didn't tell them that their big moment would be obscured by the barcode/mailing label in print) as well as many of my friends here at Drawger. At one point the crowd at the bottom was supposed to be just generic without well known faces. I thought it would be fun to put some friends in there. I think doing this demonstrated that I was up for the challenge of many likenesses so the request for the other Bum Steer nominees was put forth. Yay.
In the great minds think alike department: I had just sent the final and breathed a sigh of relief. T.J. sent a message back with the title "You gotta be kidding me". My heart sank. There was a link. I clicked it. Lo and behold the current issue of MAD magazine.
Thanks again to T.J. Tucker for the fun job. I feel like this is the kind of work I’m naturally inclined to do. I feel like a bird just whistling it’s tune when I do this sort of thing.