Another Page: ‘Bloom County Babylon’
This feature is supposed to be about books that have had a profound impact on me (or, in the case of guest posters, on others).
So I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this compendium, published in 1986. I was sixteen years old, and my sense of politics and humor — and the absurdity of everyday life — was just rounding into the form that, for better or worse, sticks with me today. Berke Breathed’s denizens — Milo Bloom, Mike Binkley, Steve Dallas, Bill the Cat, Opus, Hodgepodge, Portnoy, Oliver Wendell Jones and a coterie of others — were my constant companions back then.
As for proof of their lasting impact, I’ll give you this scene:
It’s March 2010, and I’ve just finished taping an interview with Chérie Newman of Montana Public Radio. A friend and I are standing outside the MPR studios on the University of Missoula campus, waiting for my wife and her sister to arrive so we can head off to lunch, and we start talking about “Bloom County.” What follows is a rapid-fire exchange of lines from the comic, word-perfect from memory:
“A TOOO-TOOO?” “No, No … It’s pronounced ‘tutu.’ “
“Leaving a trail of slime wherev-”
“I’ll just run it by our hot n’ juicy lawyers.”
“Careful, boy. I wouldn’t go a-puttin’ no prickly burrs up my tailpipe, if ya gets mah drift, ya little prairie poop.”
“I strangled Oakland.”
And so on. And luckily for me and every other “Bloom County” fan, there were other books. For the vast part of a decade, Berke Breathed was certainly the funniest and perhaps the most incisive social commentator of our time.
Even today, a reference to Deathtongue or Billy and the Boingers is apt to send me into peals of laughter. Opus the olive-loaf vigilante? Pure genius.
And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest that you get yourself a copy today.