Sunday, 26 June 2011

San Francisco part 7

I'm gradually falling behind in writing these occasional blogs about the fair city of San Francisco but a couple of slightly slower weeks involving much demolition means I will now attempt to get back up-to-date. It's also dawned on me the title of this blog should be 'Bay Area part whatever' seeing as it involves Orinda, Berkely and Oakland as well as the city.

On Thursday (June 9th) we drove down to Santa Cruz for a long weekend with some of Annie's family at the Borden Home. The traffic on the way down was slow-going but we rewarded ourselves with some fine cuisine upon arrival. Well Jack In The Box but as far as I'm concerned it's the best fast food hamburger joint in the US and God only knows I need a break from pizza albeit a rather unwelcome one.

After an afternoon of mooching around Logos in Santa Cruz we headed back to the house to meet Patrick, Stefi and their little boy Aidan and stoked up the BBQ for dinner. This was my first encounter with hot links and oh my - what an encounter - it was love at a first bite. They're unusually spicy beef (!) sausages and they're also for all intents and purposes as morish as crack. After a pleasant evening of beer and food we decided to check out the local dive bar 'Brady's Yacht Club'. Annie had made some big claims about what a seedy establishment it was so I was a little disappointed to be welcomed so warmly. Well in so much as we bought cheap PBR all night and everyone pretty much ignored us as we got [un]steadily drunker and drunker.

The following three days were happily similarly relaxing - bbqs, hot links, bonfires and beer - it was a really welcome holiday within the grander holiday that is America. Not sure that makes sense but I barely lifted a pencil the entire time which ultimately made me a bit miserable by the Sunday so I forced myself to do some drawing but I have grand plans for the resulting illustration so you'll have to settle for looking at our patented honey mustard chicken kebabs for now.

I did manage to take a photograph of the building I draw previously in Santa Cruz so you can see how much has changed in Seabright in a hundred years or so. The dogs gone for a start.

We drove further down the Californian coast to Carmel on the Monday but the further South we drove the cloudier it got so by the time we arrived it was well and truly overcast. The town itself must be a rich area judging by the numerous foo foo shops and boutiques. Even the bookshop was posh and rubbish so we headed to the beach where we were accosted by tiny beach squirrels. All well and good until the larger and suitably rougher looking parent squirrel turned up and started bulling Annie so we made a speedy retreat back to Santa Cruz vowing to bring Pepperjack (Annie's cattledog) along with us the next time for some much needed muscle.

Back in Santa Cruz the sun was still out so I wandered into town back to Logos and some other book shops and in the evening we went to Coles BBQ where I stupidly opted for 16oz of pork ribs. They make incredible ribs but you really only need the 12oz portion - I've ticked the pork rib box for this three month trip and have no desire to repeat it. I'm still picking bits of pork out of my teeth three weeks later.

We drove back to Orinda on the Tuesday (14th) where I managed a three mile run around the lake. Since running the London Marathon I've only managed a handful of runs despite my pledge to maintain some level of fitness. It's not helped that my toes are still fucked from the experience three months on. After running I finally plucked up enough courage to start constructing my very own website. It's at least two years late and I still have a lot of content to upload and some tweaks to make but you can see the work-in-progress here. I'm going to change the banner so that each set of illustrations sit at the top of the page and also upgrade to get my own URL but it's coming along and was a lot easier than I feared. Hopefully when completed it will encourage a deluge of illustration work for me. Well that's the idea at least - I need some work pretty desperately. Feel free to comment on any glitches or parts that you find ungainly - all comments are more than welcome.

On Wednesday I did more website work and in the evening got BART into Berkeley to go through Rasputin's Record shop basement with a fine-toothed comb. I concentrated mainly on the sale section - it's a novel thing for me to be able to buy new albums for a few dollars. I've never seen new vinyl in UK shops knocked down in price to the same extent; I picked up still sealed records from the likes of Alasdair Roberts, Fog, Jeffrey Lewis, The Owl Service and a Sufjan Stevens related gospel album plus some slightly battered John Renbourn and Don Ellis records all for no more than a few dollars a piece. All in all a good days work.

The following day we headed into the city to catch Travis Millard's new show with Mel Kadel at FFDG. Holy shit I love his work. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again but he is my favourite illustrator on earth. And Mel's work was/is fantastic to. Here are some photos we took that I really ought to lighten and clean but I can't be arsed. You really need to see the show to do it justice anyway. Even if you live in the UK. Especially if you live in the UK.


The guy working at FFDG looked so engrossed in his game of mine sweeper me and Annie seriously considered grabbing a couple of pieces off the wall and doing a runner with them. Instead we wandered over to Molotov's for some beers and pinball before we finished up at Chutney's again where the Indian Spiral Stairs laughed as we ordered exactly the same as we did the last time we were there.

The next week was a mixture of website construction, illustration and a good deal of demolition and digging. I spent one day breaking up a driveway with a ridiculously heavy pneumatic drill, then a day or so later helped dig up six truck loads of dirt from the basement and escorted them to a nearby hole. All of which gets this blog virtually up-to-date. If you made it this far high fives all round - go and make yourself a nice cup of tea to celebrate and while you're at stick one in the post for me - tea out here tastes kind of funky.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ride Roosterman Ride!

I have a new t-shirt design up on Threadless which seems to be dying the death of a thousand damp farts already. Click here to try and give it some rescue breaths back into life. Failing that score it high and write nice things about it but don't worry too much as I think it may be beyond hope already.

In future I should probably stick to cutesy AT-AT's doing wacky dog related stuff.

Monday, 20 June 2011

San Francisco part 6

On Sunday (June 5th) we had to send a mysterious package to Kuwait which involved me doing a super-quick drawing of Goober, the cat we were looking after. He's a big lump of a thing and give or take some night-time freak-outs (mostly on his part) I actually rather liked him despite my usual indifference to pets.

We then walked up through North Beach to Fisherman's Wharf which is something of a tourist hot-spot (or honey pot*) but not without it's charms. For a start there's the delightful Musee Mecanique which is crammed full of slightly sinister antiquated amusement machines a lot of which wouldn't seem out of place in a League of Gentlemen episode. Temporarily lacking direction in life I chanced my arm on the Career Pilot only to be informed I'm ideally suited to the career of 'Hot Air Artist'. This speaks volumes given my penchant for talking up a myriad of art projects and only completing a pathetic number of them. So I smashed the fuck out of it and spent the rest of my tokens playing pinball and the original Star Wars arcade game.

On the way back to the flat we stumbled across an art exhibition featuring the work of Marta Elise Johansen entitled 'Recondite Landscapes' which baffling explanations aside made for some stunning artwork. I thought I had issues with attention to detail but her drawings are eye-bleedingly detailed - the lines are so tightly drawn together that when you step away from them they look like almost 3d with a relief all of their own. Below Annie refuses to adhere to common courtesies usually associated with art exhibitions by leaving her tag all over this piece.

Feeling suitably cultured we headed off to find happy hour beers to cleanse ourselves of such bourgeois activities only to discover we were too late. Instead we paid over the odds for beers in hipster hang-out the Hemlock where the rounds seemed to increase by a dollar at each order. Needless to say we left pretty sharply.

The next day involved a great deal of fucking around with the aforementioned package to Kuwait which also required us to return to North Beach for the umpteenth time but it did allow for a quick root through a record shop - 101 Records - the sister store on Grant/Green to the one I mentioned before with the basement full of crap. This one is much more organized though with a nice selection of vinyl and I managed to pick up Gabor Szabo's brilliant 'Bacchanal' lp for a decent price.

Back at the flat I got a chance to try out my new cheap gouache paints. I've an idea for a film poster I want to redesign but rather than hurtle head first into it I thought I'd be better off doing some research and preliminary illustrations. There's a first time for everything...

I quickly discovered that I much prefer using water colours and I spent the rest of the day doing more research illustrations but I haven't had a chance to scan them yet. We end the day with a curry at Chuntey's and some beers - the way all days should ideally end.

The next day we left the Tenderloin and headed to BART for a train back to Orinda. As if to signify the completion of the TL (level 1 at least - we're cat-sitting again in a few weeks) the sun finally made an appearance after what felt like weeks of rain.

In the evening we got BART back into Oakland to see old-school hardcore band Youth of Today. It was something of an occasion for the Bay Area hardcore scene so everyone was out in force. And wearing black. Nobody told me I had to wear black so I felt a little bit out of place in my jaunty coloured hooded top but considering just how furiously perturbed some of these hardcore bands seem to be the fans are surprisingly friendly. I wasn't overly enamoured with the other bands on the line up but Youth of Today were brutal - short, sharp, shouty Dischord style hardcore jut the way I like it. And just the way the crowd liked it as well apparently - I've never seen so much stage-diving and energy in a venue. I stood at the back clapping vigorously to show my appreciation especially when they covered Minor Threat's classic 'Minor Threat'. AWESOME SQUARED.

The following day was a little less eventful but I did manage some more record shopping at Rasputin's sprawling vinyl basement in Berkely where I picked up a few dirt cheap goodies. I even squeezed in some design work later on in the day to help finance this whole SF adventure.

* Human Geography degree related humour. Minus the humour.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

San Francisco part 5

I have a theory people go through three stages when they spend time in the Tenderloin. The first stage is one of shock mixed with fear; the sheer number of crack-addled and/or crazy down and outs as you wander a block or two beyond Union Square is quite unsettling if you're not familiar with American cities. I've spent time brief spells in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle and I was still fairly anxious to get from Union Square to our temporary place of residence/refuge deep in the Tenderloin as quickly as possible.

The second stage of the TL is an uneasy melancholy as you navigate your way through the intimidating dealers, dog-rough hookers and the mentally unstable folk to the corner store for a beer and some crisps. Witness Annie getting her drink on.

The third stage is absolute indifference to the point of barely noticing as you pass an old guy squatting on the street grumbling his way through a crap whilst simultaneously attempting to beg from you.

I went through all three stages in about forty eight hours. It's really sad but you build up a mental force field after no time at all and quickly forget about all the shit (often literally) going on around you. And I have to say after that period of time I didn't feel particularly threatened or uneasy at all but I was also aware of not getting to complacent about the TL.

On the flip-side you can piss anywhere there. I quickly got used to seeing people pissing up the side of parked SUVs and goodness knows finding a place to have a wee in SF is a challenge so that's a bonus. Incidentally I didn't take this picture but it was one of the first images that came up when I googled Tenderloin, SF...

As mentioned in the previous [and fascinating] installment we were cat/flat-sitting in the TL for a few days which was an ideal way to spend some time in the city without the hassle of BART. The best way to get a feel for somewhere is to walk around it and the TL is ideally located, central to a lot of the most interesting places in SF. North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf/Haight and the Divisadero/Japantown and Fillmore/Downtown and Market Street/the Castro and Noe Valley are all within reasonable walking distance for your run-of-the-mill Englishman.

The first night there we managed to blag tickets on to the guest-list for a Gruff Rhys show at the Rickshaw Stop. I've seen him a few times over the years and he's always great but it was especially good seeing him in such a small venue - there looked to be no more than two hundred in the audience. He's currently touring with Welsh surf-rockers Y Niwl who act as support band and backing band to Gruff. Typically I'm not into bands doing something so obviously derivative but Y Niwl are fucking aces very nearly giving Gruff a run for his money performance wise. Loud fuzz-drenched surf guitaring. What more could you want?

As for Gruff he played a stonking hour and a half set featuring a mix of the new Hotel Shampoo stuff and plenty of older favourites too much to the annoyance of Annie who struggles when bands play for more than twenty minutes due to her hardcore/punk yoof. He even managed to do live looping off of a turntable with the Cyrkle record Andy Votel sampled on 'Shark Ridden Waters' which I was [probably overly] impressed with. I was less impressed when a drunken Brit managed to sit on the same turntable later on during the set. It's such a relief not to be the drunken Brit for once.

The following day I set out of the flat reasonably early to find some pizza for breakfast. I got a little distracted in the process and walked to North Beach via some stunning views of the city and less stunning gradients. I've watched the car-chases in Bullitt but you really have to walk up a few SF hills before you can grasp quite how steep some of them are. I ended up in an art store in the process of moving buildings and managed to buy some cheap gouache paints. In retrospect they may have been a little too cheap - they're not as opaque as I was hoping for.

Ignoring my increasingly unhappy stomach I walked back through Chinatown to the Downtown district where I found a slightly lost Rasputin's record store. The neighbouring shops in the area are predominantly huge businesses like Nike and Macys so it's a refreshing to see an independent record shop holding it's own in amongst them. After a cursory glance through the main shelves of records I started to root through all of the boxes of marked down vinyl waiting to be rehoused. Aside from paying full price for the new Fleet Foxes album I managed to pick up a few cheapies like Leo Kottke's 'Mudlark' lp (featuring the brilliant 'Hear the Wind Howl') which I'd always ignored due to the fact the cover is more 1981 than 1971, Tim Hardin's near-perfect '2' lp, I took a two dollar gamble on Traffic's 'Mr Fantasy' lp and got some newer albums heavily marked down as well (Julie Doiron, Peter Broderick, Risil) all for about $30. All well and good until I nearly fainted from lack of food - it was near enough 4.00pm by the time I left Rasputin's and I still hadn't eaten. I seem to have developed the ability to totally forget to eat of late which is slightly unsettling. I made my way back to the flat and grabbed a slice of pizza en-route which turned out to be a bit of a crap slice. Even so a crap slice in the US is still an ace slice by UK standards.

Still feeling like I wanted to see more of the city I left the flat again and headed up Polk Street to Russian Hill Bookstore where I resisted the urge to buy this incredible looking trashy pulp sci-fi 'The Escape Orbit'. The cover may be a thing of illustrative wonder but $10 is a little rich for a beaten up and almost certainly crap read no matter how good the cover.

That said, $10 is more than agreeable for a delicious Indian meal which is exactly what we did for dinner at a restaurant called 'Chutney' deep in the TL. America may do the best pizza but in my experience the curries are pretty bland compared to any UK curry house, however, Chutney's is great. $10 - $15 will buy you a delicious lamb curry with a side of rice, a kebab and a naan. As if that wasn't enough to tempt you, you can bring your own huge can of Mexican future beer to accompany your meal and perhaps the best part of the experience [at least for me]; the manager looks the spitting image of Spiral Stairs from Pavement. Well an Indian version of Spiral Stairs anyway.

After all the Beat inspired touring around SF it seemed a fitting end to the day watching 'Howl'. Unfortunately it's a bit of a mess let down by some terrible, over-egged animation sequences.

The following day we headed up to Haight on Muni where I forced Annie to eat more pizza at Escape From New York's and then forced her to come to Amoeba Records with me. I've probably mentioned the former already - best pizza in SF. The latter is a huge record shop established in a former bowling alley and is equally aces. And fucking huge.

We then fought our way through the throngs of crusty punk-kids and hippie carnage that is Haight down to the more agreeable Lower Haight taking in the beautiful houses as we went until we reached Rooky Records.

Rooky's is a joyous record shop crammed full of 45's most of which are funk and soul so not especially my bag but given it was a Saturday the place was rammed. There's three or four listening turntables in there and each one was being used by vinyl fanatics sifting through piles of the wonderful black stuff. Inconceivably most of the people in the shop looked like normal people - I'm used to sharing record shops with the unholy funk of unkempt and often socially retarded freaks so Rooky's nearly made me cry with happiness. Unfortunately I left open-handed as Annie wasn't keen on waiting around but I will return and soon.

We left Lower Haight and walked over to Japantown via the Fillmore district inadvertently gate-crashing so informal Manga convention where assorted boys and girls spent the afternoon copying Manga characters in their sketchbooks. Annie wanted me to fight them by way of some kind of elaborate draw off but I was too scared plus I felt a bit of a creepy paedo trying to oogle at their illustrations.

After we were run out of Japantown by a gang of twelve year old girls dressed as Manga characters we got the bus to Inner Richmond where we returned to Green Apple Books which is fast becoming my favourite book shop in SF. After a delicious Thai dinner recommended by some random bro with the immortal lines 'dude - you can eat your face off there for ten dollars' we chanced upon Park Life a art/design book shop come gallery with some incredible original Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee prints. I eventually managed to roll my tongue back in my mouth but not before we were informed that there's going to be a Margaret Kilgallen exhibition in SF in July. RAD. A dozen or so happy hour beers later we headed home armed with a rucksack full of Hello Panda snacks feeling all kinds of awesomez.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

San Francisco part 4

On Sunday (29th May) we drove into the city to North Beach where Annie had a job interview which gave me an afternoon to explore so I made my way along Columbus Avenue to visit the Beat Museum. North Beach has long been associated with the Beat generation; Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassidy both spent time living in the neighborhood alongside Allen Ginsberg and a host of other Beat writers and poets frequenting the numerous cafes and bars of the area. Despite this the Beat Museum was a bit of a disappointment with a few too many wonky Beat inspired shit paintings and some antiquated furniture the likes of which Kerouac might have had in his apartment.

Over the road from the Beat Museum is Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore which is also steeped in Beat history - a meeting point for counter-culture revolutionaries which also doubled as a publisher. It was here that Ginsberg's 'Howl and Other Poems' was originally published in 1956 as part of the Pocket Poets Series established by Ferlinghetti although I must confess I wasn't especially struck by any great feeling for the place although I tend to struggle with book shops that don't sell second hand books.

I then spent an hour rooting around in the basement of a record/music shop which claims to have 50,000 records. Unfortunately they don't seem to be in any particular order so despite a few near misses (PiL's 'Metal Box' filled with Fine Young Cannibal's vinyl - a sick joke...) I left open-handed.

The illustrator Micheal Sieben is a long-time favourite of mine and he's part of an exhibition currently running in North Beach called 'Almost Always' at the Double Punch Gallery so after my fruitless record rummage I met Annie there. The show features six new original illustrations and three new screen-prints compiled from his on-going work for Thrasher Magazine and it's all aces. The prints especially are the bee's cock. Don't fret - I'll get bored of that expression fairly soon. Some of the artwork is still available if you click on the Double Punch link above.

Here's a slightly awkward photo of me looking uncomfortable quite near the aforementioned artwork. I realized a little while ago I'm not taking nearly enough photos because I hate taking them and I hate being in them. I do however like to own them. Annoying eh? But not as annoying as the jaunty angle I've started wearing my new hat at.

We then headed up to Haight for more pizza and onto Inner Richmond to a huge independent book shop called Green Apple Books which also does a nice line in second hand records. I'm starting to bore myself talking about second hand record shops and books shops - I intend to make some kind of SF zine when I get back featuring a spods guide to the city. I intend to do a lot of things though so don't get too excited.

The following day we headed into the city again - Annie had chores to do all day so I had the day to myself. Or so I thought. With the help of a friendly passer-by I managed to negotiate the Muni system from Market Street all the way up to Noe Valley. Noe Valley is the SF equivalent of Stoke Newington from what I can gather - lots of well-to-do thirty something folk into pilates and yoghurt-weaving fruiting about in foo-foo boutiques. That said it does have a great book shop called Phoenix Books where I managed to find a cheap but battered (just the way I like 'em) copy of Richard Brautigan's 'Trout Fishing in America' and a reasonably priced copy of 'Best American Comics 2008'. I'm a sucker for comic/graphic novel compendiums and this one has some excellent pieces from heavy-weights like Chris Ware and Seth but the stand out work for me is Eleanor Davis's 'Seven Sacks' which manages to combine beautiful artwork with an unnervingly sinister storyline. She also provides the cover artwork for the book which is fantastic and did much to persuade me to exchange money for goods. Much of her artwork is gouache-based which inspires me to seek out some gouache. Without wanting to change my style too drastically (what style I hear you say?) I really want to start incorporating more colour in my work and not just at the final Photoshop or screen-printed stage.

Having plundered Phoenix Books for all it's worth I left Noe Vally and set off towards Lower Haight via the Castro for an extended peruse through the record shops but Annie managed to get out of her commitments and met me in a comic shop in the Castro. We change our plans accordingly to involve more beer/pizza and less books/records. Oddly Annie doesn't have the same lust for dog-eared books and musty vinyl as I do so instead we drove over to Inner Sunset for a wander but didn't encounter much beyond a tasty doughnut shop. We decided to spend the late afternoon at Ocean Beach sitting on walls looking thoughtfully out to sea as if pondering deep thoughts when in actual fact we were just thinking about what pizza joint to hit up next.

The next couple of days we helped out in the basement on more digging and concrete mixing/laying duties. It wasn't so bad - the weather has been pretty changeable since I arrived and the last week of May was really wet and cold so it's not especially conducive to fun times. Following the renovations we left the sanctuary and peace of Orinda (save a few leaf blowers right folks?*) for a few days to cat/flat-sit in the city in the Tenderloin. The Tenderloin is an interesting neighbourhood. Interesting if you like people swearing at you/robbing you/stabbing you/doing a shit on you/all of the above...

*Orinda based topical humour!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

'Waiting For The Mail' illustration

Here's the illustration I did in Santa Cruz of the post office building which was at one point owned by some relations of Annie. I'll post up more information when I get a chance and an up-to-date photo of the building as well.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

San Francisco part 3

It's not all drawing, boozing and pizza over here you know. There has also been some digging and I don't mean in the hip hop sense of digging for records (although there has been some of that). Annie's parents are redoing their basement which has involved much demolition most of which I conveniently missed whilst still in the UK however there was a hole to be dug. It's been a long time since I did any digging and it only took about five minutes for me to remember exactly why - it's blooming hard work. We eventually finished with the construction of an elaborate steel-reinforced concrete foundation a couple of days ago and I still ache. I never thought I'd be posting up pictures of holes I've dug on this blog but there's a first time for everything...

In amongst the digging and concrete mixing I've managed to do a few drawings too - in fact I rather like the combination of manual labour followed by a few hours of creative farting about. I was quite impressed with the ink wash techniques I experimented with whilst in Santa Cruz so I've been trying to simplify my line work and enhancing my illustrations with similar ink washes. Here's an illustration I did of a photograph taken by Gavin Watson for his stunning 'Skins and Punks' book. The hardest thing for me is resisting the temptation to over-egg every little detail but I just about managed it here for a quick and simple line drawing before layering on several ink washes.

The following day (Thursday 26th) after another afternoon of digging and squaring off my beloved trench we headed into the city to the prestigious Fillmore venue for Yeasayer. I've seen them a few times over the years to the point where I was slightly blasé about going but it only took about a minute to realise how foolish this response was - they're still the best indie-dance-pop band on Earth - I only wish I'd brought along my Benny Bollinger patented 'Rave Cape'. It was going off down the front. So much so Annie insisted we move further back to avoid the sweaty throngs of bouncing hipsters with elaborate hair cuts. Yeasayer played a greatest hits set (pretty much a given considering they're only two albums deep) with a few new songs thrown in. I wasn't especially moved by the new stuff but it took me a while to make the transition from the freakish guitar-dirge of 'All Hour Cymbals' to the dance-pop of 'Odd Blood' anyway so what the fuck do I know? As it was 'Madder Red' was my favourite song of the night and the Fillmore's sound is absolutely incredible as you would expect for a venue steeped in so much history. As we filed out into Geary Street clutching onto our free gig posters (nice touch - bit dubious about the free apples though) Annie and myself squirmed at the realization that Yeasayer were probably 'our' band. Then we both vomited copiously.

On Friday I was feeling lethargic and struggled to get going - I eventually started drawing a rooster-man riding on a motorbike. I'll post it up at some point but I still need to tweak some of it. We then headed into the city for the evening to do some secret special work which I cannot disclose on these pages at this time. Which is a shame as it was good fun and bizarrely high-profile in an art sense but whatever. We did manage to work until two in the morning with a quick donut run at about half one - late night donut runs in the Tenderloin on a Friday are something of an eye opener. It's like the bastard off-spring of a Cannibal Ox song ("crack heads stand adjacent, anger displacement, food stamp arrangements...") and one of those ridiculous real life MTV television programmes based in LA where beautiful simpletons who can barely construct a sentence ('I was like, she was like, he was like') preen around vacuously trying to rut with each other; it makes for an unusual mix especially when you're stone cold sober. The former are TL regulars and the latter are 'bridge and tunnelers' I'm informed. It didn't seem pertinent to mention we traveled in over a bridge...

Saturday morning was the Champions League final US style. Inexplicably Fox had decided to show the football and in doing so constantly felt the urge to remind us exactly how excited we should be to be witnessing such an awesome soccer event. They also chose a fucking cretin by way of a host that I-shit-you-not made me long for Adrian Chiles ("a talking Toby jug full of steaming hot piss"). Within the first ten minutes we were given a full break-down of how the rules to 'soccer' differ from American football, there was a 'Hot Match-Up' section sponsored by Pizza Hut (Pique and Shakira in case you were wondering) and a lengthy and open discussion about Mr. Super-injunction himself. We were also introduced to Wayne Rooney - an awesome footballer known for scoring 'crazy, sick goals' as apposed to being a fat, over-rated, money-grabbing, jug-eared cunt. All of this came to a welcome grinding halt at kick off when I was whisked back to England to the dour tones of Martin Tyler and Alan Smith for the commentary. It was a pleasure seeing Man Utd torn apart with relative ease although I still don't understand why nobody in the Premiership noticed how shit their midfield was during the season. I'm straying a bit far from drawing and records at this point - bare with me.

In the evening we were in a shady part of Oakland at the metal oasis that is 'Eli's Mile High Club' working the door for Midnight Chaser. I nearly didn't get to work the door because I forgot my id. Is that ironic? I've forgotten how all that irony stuff works. Having convinced the bouncer I was over 21 we spent the evening drinking Olympia Beer and taking money on the door whilst three metal bands shredded to varying degrees in the background. The first band Lechourous Gaze were pretty enjoyable - I struggle a bit with guitar solos but when they reigned those in a bit they were pretty tight. Midnight Chaser were a joyous mighty noise - taking the Awesome Righteous Shredding of the Evening award (A.R.S.E) - the lad Scott on vocals seems to have channeled all of the best bits of Rob Halford (rock fist of justice n' all) and seems to possess the lungs of a gargantuan behemoth at least twice his stature. By which I mean he can sing. As for the last band - I wasn't so keen - I couldn't quite grasp their name either. I've seen Anvil. I appreciate they've probably been paying dues forever but it just made me a bit sad. Plus all that daytime boozing for the football caught up with me.

I was going to write more than this but we're currently cat-sitting in a food-free flat in the Tenderloin, it's half one in the afternoon and I'm dead hungry. You are saved for now...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Richard Brautigan portrait

I have a fair bit of artwork to put up on the blog from a fortnight of drawing but I'm still without Photoshop so even the simplest cropping and colour tweaks are proving tricky. In the meantime here's a speedy portrait I did of Richard Brautigan based on the cover of his classic novel 'Trout Fishing in America'. On a recommendation I managed to find a beaten up copy in Phoenix Books in Noe Valley yesterday for a few dollars; after a couple of weeks of creative inspiration last night I was blank so I reached for the nearest thing to draw. Richard Brautigan cuts a lean and dandy figure in the photograph which incidentally was taken in San Francisco's Washington Square. The same cannot be said for his female companion - all I'm saying is don't shoot the illustrator...

The portrait was done with dipping pen and indian ink with an additional ink wash. For some reason the darker washes bled a bit - I'm not sure if this was from erasing the pencil lines after the line-work had been completed [prior to the washes] - I know sometimes if I erase pencil lines prior to doing my line work this can make the paper more prone to bleeding. Any technical guidance would be greatly appreciated.