Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friday: I went to work and prepared a few files for print--a book cover and a ToC. Sent those off. Packed up, went home, had a quick early lunch and went to Book Expo America (BEA) at the Javitz Center. My boss made me go. Too crowded, too much stimulation, too many people in suits talking loudly. But I got to see old Disney friends--Nellie, Hannah, Zatorski and Bass--and met up with Suraiya. (The first photo is a photo of her taking a photo of Clifford for her daily photo blog. How fucking meta/po-mo am I? Pretty goddamn.)

Left BEA with Suraiya, walked over to Koreatown and met Patricia at Seoul Garden. Ate delicious sizzling dol sot bi bim bap with seafood. Then a walk down to Madison Square Park and a long talk on a bench. We left so I could get a few Micron pens and a pad of Bristol board so I could continue the postcard-fest unfettered. Home to watch Land of Silence and Darkness by that Werner Herzog fella. Wow. Wow. That's all I can say. That Vladimir kid about two-thirds of the way through the movie made it all (disturbingly) worthwhile. I could watch that kid forever and do endless drawings about him. The clothes, the poses, the sounds and movements . . . shit.

Today: usual crap in the morning after 8 uninterrupted hours of sober sleep. Usual ride over to the studio. Three postcards today, uneventful but delightful sunset on the roof, etc. Gabriel showed up with the hounds, Worm and old Whatshisname.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


(Or is it Rockaways? I can never remember. Let's compromise . . .)


Worked turned us over to summer Fridays a few weeks back. I pissed away the first two but decided to make the last Friday count for something. I live on an island but I haven't been to the sea since 2006. I squirted out of work at 1 pm, went home and had a quick lunch and packed up the bag--a towel, sunscreen, floppy hat, water shoes. Took the R to Roosevelt Ave and transferred to the E. Hah. I'm just kidding. I got on a F because I wasn't really paying attention--one of those new, shiny-type trains with the LED display on the front pulled into the station and I got on. Mainly because those trains--on this line anyway--are almost always E trains. So I sat and the stops went by. And by. And then some slow, sluggish instinct spoke up: this doesn't seem right. I don't remember these stops. Sure enough: F train. So I got off. Backtracked a few stops. Still wasn't enough. A few more bouts of back and forth and finally I was at the correct station on the correct train. Out to the end of the E, up the escalator to the street and then up another long long endlessly long escalator to the AirTrans train. Took that around JFK (all the while listening to the guttural mutterings of Germans) to the A train platform. A few house sparrows have built nests in the crevices between the lights and the platform roof and I watch them tend to their noisy, downy young that were just learning to fly. Took the A one stop to Broad Channel and transferred to the Rockaway shuttle. Calexico played me out to the last stop on the shuttle and the 5 minute walk to the beach.

There were people on the beach but not many. Mostly teens with boards, a few Orthodox moms with children, some surf-fishers in moss-colored waders and a lot of beach walkers. I headed west down the beach--my goal was to walk to the very tip of this bit of the Rockaways. (During my last visit to the Rockaways, I headed east.) Sunny, the surf was high and the water cold and indigo. I've never been much of a beach guy--I like beaches, yes, but I quickly get restless if I just sit and read and get red in the sun. I prefer to walk but even that can grow tiresome: hello rocks, hello shells, hello empty horseshoe crab carapace. Hello used condom. This was a good walk, however, but I can tell you little specific about it. I walked to a point when the beach seemed to end . . . and then it didn't. And then I walked to another point where the beach seemed to end--the tip of the spit of land, I was hoping--but it didn't. And yet again I had this experience until I covered what was (by my estimation) four or five miles. It was 6 pm, My skin was pink. My toes were tired from constantly being spread wide while walking in the sand. I started thinking about carnitas tacos and cold beer from the taco place around the corner from my apartment. This beach--while lovely--was no longer it for me. (And by "it" I mean this beach didn't offer tacos and cold beer.) So I turned back and trudged the four or five miles back to the shuttle.

Well, trudged isn't quite the correct word. I cut into the main thoroughfare closest to the beach and walked a mile or two along a street lined with compact but (for the most part) lovely little houses with tightly landscaped lawns. A lot of the New England shanty-shingle style (but the nice, monied version of that style) and more than a few stucco and red tile roof jobbies as well. Cut back out to the beach again after a bit and walked along the boardwalk. Much easier commute, really. Took in all of the buildings directly pushing up to the beach--serried rows of apartment buildings as I got closer to the shuttle. The brick facing on these buildings was heavily corroded and the mortar seemed to have softened a bit. The buildings weren't falling apart by any means but they did look peculiarly tired and slumped, and a bit pock-marked like the guy who played Agent Johnson in Die Hard. (No, the other Agent Johnson.)

The shuttle pulled in just as I got to the station. Rode back to Broad Channel and from there back to JFK--the track travels over Jamaica Bay and vegetation seemed to push up right against window of the car. I saw a few seemingly man-sized white birds as we pulled into the JFK station (egrets, I think but I've never been good with the waterbirds.) The trip back to the neighborhood was much easier than the trip out. Hit the street and got my carnitas tacos and a few Coronas and headed home.

Yesterday: Up early. Memorial Day yoga. Two postcards in the studio. Sunset and a few beers on the studio roof.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Five more postcards yesterday. I was in the studio from 1 until 8 or so, working most of that time with a beer break in the late afternoon when Teddy arrived with a sixer of Tecate. Around 8, I rode down to meet Haroula and AP at Zebulon in Williamsburg--Haroula was in town to do a set at Zebulon and AP was in town to work on a thing with his writing partner. Haroula played a lovely, introspective set to a noisy room. We then left and walked over to Diner. Well, not Diner, exactly, but the oyster place next to Diner--the name escapes me. Procured a big table in the back and the 10-12 of us all sat down for some grub and liquid refreshments. I didn't catch everyone's name or career but what I did catch--a film director, a financial analyst looking for investement in Sub-Saharan Africa, a partical physicist, a psychologist, a ethnomusicologist specializing in flamenco guitar--seemed like a typical mixed salad of the Haroula variety. (I know how douchey and pretentious it sounds--and oh-so-fabulous New York-y--to list all of that stuff. But, really, it is the kind of thing that happens here. It's fun. I'm trying to enjoy it without being all sarcastic and snarky about. Got it, motherfucker?)

I didn't really eat anything at the oyster place--I got a terrible, heavy, squidgy wrap from a deli near the studio late in the afternoon and it never quite settled comfortably into my belly. (Normally, they're a reliable staple for good sandwiches.) So I picked a few things off of Haroula's plate--a few potato chips, a bit of fresh pasta, a crumble or two of sausage, a bite of soft-shelled crab (Like eating a cockroach! Delish!) and a cornichon or two. I left the gathering around midnight--I still had a half-hour ride back to Astoria. The ride was great, effortless: cool night, empty streets for the most part. Home, showered off the grime and sweat, and in bed around 2 am.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Out of the office at 4:30 yesterday. I walked over to the studio and picked up a few tallboys. Got there, changed into shorts and flipflops, got to work on the tallboys and finished a postcard. (The postcards I'm working on now are from a pack of Little Nemo in Slumberland cards I've been carrying around since 1999 or so. (I know I sent a few from France and Italy in the fall of 1999 and a few more from Madrid in 2007.) I'm going to get through these and then maybe start on something a little more collaborative? I don't know. It's all kind of forming. Flailing blindly. But I think it's time I attemped to crack the seal--at least temporarily--on the cloistered studio practice.

Changed back into big boy clothes and headed into the city. I met up with Ana, Shaina, Alessandra, Nellie, Suraiya and Monsur (thank god I had another dude there to save me from the vag fest) to see The Dave Hill Explosion at UCB. Ira Glass was the guest. Fucking hilarious show. Then over to the Half King for a few beers and some fried food. We scattered around 1 am and I took the E home and it wasn't an awful commute. Shocking. No homeless guys in my car, either. Stink-free commuting!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Okay. This postcard wasn't quite finished up when I shot it last night. I worked on it this morning while sitting at the desk. (I get here at 7:30a so I had a bit of time.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two more postcards tonight. Not sure where they're going just yet.

Day: uneventful. Into the city for the regular Tuesday night appointment and then walked over to 14th and 8th to visit Ombretta's show on the closing night. ( A few old drawing of mine were up.) Then the E to the 7 to the studio. A few beers with Teddy and Steve. Then Rose showed up with Teddy's birthday gift--a greenglass bottle of single malt. I had a few fingers while working on postcard number one. They left for sushi. I had a few more fingers and finished up postcard number two.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I woke early and spent the afternoon cleaning my half of the apartment: filthy. Sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, etc. to an odd playlist I found on iTunes, all instumental but very disparate. A mishmosh of what I like best--Japancakes, Do Make Say Think, Tortoise, Stars of the Lid--but clearly with no overriding theme. Odd. Finished cleaning and got the groceries. Came back, split the garlic, chopped the carrots, minced the onions, jalapenos and poblanos and put on the weekly batch of lentils; while those were cooking I hard-boiled some eggs and dropped off laundry and picked up some melatonin. Came back, put all away and watched about ten minutes of McCabe & Mrs. Miller before I kind of drifted off and started to pack for the studio. (The film stars Julie Christie and Warren Beatty. I have a hard time separating Julie Christie from bad 60s/70s sci-fi/horror (Fahrenheit 451, for instance, or this creepy stinker with a horribly "naturalistic" (read: icky as unshaven fuck) sex scene between her and Donald Sutherland. Beatty I can't seperate from the Dick Tracy/Madonna thing from the early 90s (when he first really settled into my "adult" consciousness) so the movie was tough to crack. I'll give it another shot later in the week.)

(On Saturday, I watched an Antonioni film, The Passenger, with Jack Nicholson. It was eh.  I am beginning to have a greater affinity for films that just kind of . . . are. They begin and end and we just happen to witness them--there is no moral or ending or ka-zowie explosion or spoon-fed summation. I haven't developed a real hunger for these films yet but they make sense to me in a way that I'm willing to obliquely pursue. Anyway, the point that I wanted to make was: Nicholson. It was well before he became a parody of himself (I think The Shining really made that possible) and he was very much humble and grounded in the role of Locke/Davidson. He was Locke/Davidson, not Jack Nicholson pretending he was either of those guys. I really enjoyed his performance.)

Okay. Back to today. Put the lentils away and rode over to the studio. Climbed the six flights and settled in. Made a few more postcards. Listened to that Talk Talk's Laughing Stock, an old favorite that's been out of the rotation for a long time. The sky had been gray all day so I left while it was still light outside; figured there was no point in going up to the roof in the smirch and overcast. Rode down the block and snapped the "Teddy" photos at a recently-closed stripclub a few blocks away from the studio. Headed gradually over toward the apartment and--from a bridge overlooking the Sunnyside Yards--noticed a hot burst of pink light right when the sun set below the grey deck of clouds. SO FUCKING PISSED. Should've held out and went on the studio roof.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Another few give aways. Something to keep the hands busy. I'm intrigued with the idea of portraying routine--grinding, relentless routine--as some kind of monster or villain. Or both.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I've been out of the studio too long. I don't mean that literally--I'm in there all the time. But I'm just killing time in there, watching movies, drinking beer, creating little doodles and collages with no attempt at content. I have a desire to introduce new experiences into the drawings. Most of my drawings come out of negative/obsessive/hopeless feelings and dead-end experiences. You know . . . emo stuff. Like I'm a fifteen year old. It's as if the drawings are composed of bits of distasteful detritus--the psychic equivalent of a dot of rancid gum pulled off the sidewalk, a dregs of a beer glass with butts floating in it, hair clots from behind the toilet, oily gunk scraped of the floor of the oven. I understand the language of discomfort, of longing, of disappointment, sorrow, rage, jealousy, envy, wrathfulness, anxiety, all of that. If you can throw out a pejorative term, I can admit to slipping it's visual equivalent into the drawings. (Or trying anyway. The imagery comes of it's own accord and my control over it tends to be slippery at best.) I've spent years refining this practice. Why? It's easier to by cynical and self-protective, to assume that nothing can go correctly and that no situation can possible blossom into anything wholesome. Perhaps this works better when you're younger. It cushions the first big disappointments--the first broken heart, the first serious betrayal of a friend (or parent), the first layoff, the general graying down of the black-and-white clarity of your early, pot-smoking twenties. But that shit gets old after awhile, you know?

Funny thing is? My chosen language is derived from the benign, totally unnuanced language of commercial illustration, children's books, Japanese monster movies, Saturday morning cartoons, etc. It doesn't really match up with the professed dark intention of the work. "The problems an adult filtered through the visual language of a 10 year old," is how one of my grad school teachers put it. (I don't think he was trying to be a dick, either.) I'm feeling this powerful urge to change the visual language (which, admittedly, I love) or at least find a way to introduce new experiences into the work? I consider all of the books/movies/music that I love and they all share (aside from an epic scope) this sense of inclusion--light and darkness, joy and misery, uh, blood and gin? Nintendo and hockey pucks? You know what I mean. Right? They possess a fullness, a roundness, an acknowledgment of the whole experience. My drawings lack that. Actually, so does (or did) my own perceptions up until fairly recently. I simply don't (yet) possess the visual language to express joy, comfort, etc. But that kind of thing is hard to pull off without injecting unicorn or butterflies or large-eyed kitties into the work. Can you point me in the direction of some visual art that encompasses the whole experience?

Photo: a strangely isolated patch of cirrus clouds captured on the walk home.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two giveaways.

TOP: a birthday card/drawing for my friend A. Our mutual friend Erin from A Dress A Day picked out the dress; I provided the character.

BOTTOM: my submission for the CAC Postcard Benefit.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I saw this mope recording a little something in Central Park on Friday afternoon. I can't believe he'd show his face after taking Pluto out. Jerk.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Saturday: stayed inside most of the day due to rain. (Fucking rain, man. Enough already.) The clouds pulled off by 4 pm or so and I walked in to the studio under sun and blue sky. Watched an episode of The Wire and then headed into Manhattan and then down to Brooklyn to meet Patricia at BAM to see the Trisha Brown Dance Company perform. Dance isn't so much my thing but it was a really beautiful performance--none of the usually falling-down-and-getting-back-up post-modernism but very expressive modern dance (and don't ask me to define modernism in dance) with nods to ballet. Even the musical contribution from Laurie Anderson wasn't too terrible. Afterward, we walked over to the General Greene and got a few light plates for dinner--escarole with mushrooms, marinated beets with yogurt and mint, and lentils with lamb sausage. A salted caramel ice cream sundae with a cup of milky coffee for dessert. Good food but kind of lousy service--the server seemed pretty distracted and messed up the dessert order. On the Q by 11:30 and home but 12:15am. Considering the nightmare MTA commutes I've had from Brooklyn after 11pm, I consider myself blessed.

Sunday: Raining. Again with the rain. Stay in the house as long as I could take it, attempting to wait the rain out. I even tried to take a nap. (Couldn't fall asleep.) But the rain never broke and I had to get out and take the train to the studio. Worked a bit on a birthday drawing for a friend and a postcard for the CAC benefit. Teddy was there. We listened to the radio for a bit, put on some music finally--Built to Spill, Brian McBride, and a little Miles of course. A few beers later, we headed over to my neighborhood for a few tacos at Viva El Mariachi. Such a great little dump--very much like the kind of taco place you'd stagger into after the bars had closed in Chicago. Too-bright lighting, tile floors, mirrored walls, thumping mariachi music, tables and chairs bought second-hand from a restaurant that Patrick Nagel designed in late 1983. The only thing missing was the half-dozen toddlers gamboling about the place at 2 am. I had two tacos--one white queso and one carnitas, both absolutely delicious. Teddy got carnitas and chorizo, both also delicious. Then a walk home, an hour of reading and then bed.

Friday, May 01, 2009

It's been uneventful all week. Sticking around the neighborhood for the most part. No studio time. Nothing wrong with that but--as always--I feel like time rots away if I don't spend it in the studio. So I'm just trying to immerse myself in the days and be present.