Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cook's Barbecue, Part Two

These are recent finds, almost a intact paper table menu that I well remember serving as the placemats at my grandfather's restaurant, and two package labels for the canned Cook's BBQ products they sold in retail stores and at the cash register counter in the restaurant itself. We had emptied out many boxes from our parents' garage when my dad died: we rented a huge movable dumpster from the city and simply dumped box after box. We didn't bother looking into each box, as it would have taken too much time, and most them were damaged from the elements. We only saved the few that appeared relatively free of mold, insect infestation and cobwebs, etc. We then transferred those remaining boxes to a storage facility. Last summer we decided to go through what was left, take what we wanted to keep and discard the rest or donate it to Good Will. In going through the boxes, we found these few actual remnants from our grandfather's restaurant. They could very easily have been discarded without our ever having known they were there. We found exactly three intact placemat menus, one for me, and one each for my two brothers. Providence!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cook's Barbecue, Part One

These are photographs we found after my mother died and we were emptying out her house prior to selling it. They show one exterior view and two interior views of COOK'S BARBECUE, my grandfather's restaurant in Evansville, Indiana. My father worked there for his dad as the second in charge. This would have been about 1961 or 62, as the original restaurant was smaller and less modern. The new restaurant commenced construction in 1960, I believe, and was open for business by 1961. I have vivid memories of our weekly lunches there every Sunday after church, and, less often, dinners. We left Evansville in late 1963 and headed to the Jacksonville Beaches in Florida because my father could no longer work with his father, who was, by all accounts, difficult and irascible. My uncle, who worked in advertising in Jacksonville, had put my father in touch with a restaurateur there who was looking for someone to run one of his restaurants. My cousin Bill worked for grandad for a year or two after he was discharged from the Marines--this was after we had left Indiana--and he still talks about how terrible grandad was and how he "ran everybody out of there!" (By this he meant family members who worked for him at various times. Only my grandfather's sister, my Aunt Inez--as sweet as my grandfather was not--stayed with him. She made pies there.) By 1965 everything fell apart. My grandfather, a diabetic with high blood pressure, had a stroke at work one day while--I'm told--yelling at an employee. He never really recovered. The restaurant had to be sold and grandad was placed in a nursing home. After a couple of years, my father and my uncle decided to move grandad down to a nursing home in Florida, where he could receive visits from his family. I remember him at Sunday dinners at our house, where he was mostly quiet, passive, and uncommunicative. He died in 1971 or 72.

I hadn't seen these pictures in years, and my memories of the restaurant are realized in exact detail in these photographs. Not an iota of my memory is betrayed by the evidence here. I have to say the barbecue may have been the best I've ever had. For years after, my father and uncle would have semi-annual cookouts at my uncle's house where they would prepare the recipe for the sauce--which had been devised by my grandfather and grandmother--and would slow cook ribs and chicken on an outdoor brick grill for hours. They replicated the restaurant's output perfectly!

Dad 'n Bro

These are quick profile portraits of my father and brother, respectively. I sketched my dad as he napped in his chair. As drawing paper, I used the weekly bulletin of the church we attended when I was growing up, (and where my father continued as a Lay Reader until just before he died). I sketched my brother in a sketchbook as I sat at one end of the couch and he sat at the other, somewhat in repose, watching television. He was covered by a blanket as, even though this was Florida, it was December and quite chilly out, and the heater in our parents' house was not working. I remember thinking I couldn't wait to get back north where I could be warm! (They did get the heater fixed, but not before my brother and I left our Christmas visits home to head back to California and New York, respectively).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nightmare at the Brooklyn Museum of Art

Back in 1999 there was a selection of artworks from the Saatchi collection on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. One of the pieces included was by African artist Chris Offili. He is known for incorporating elephant dung into some of his paintings, and the piece on display on this occasion was his rendering of the "The Holy Virgin Mary," done in African folk-art style. Offili attached a globe of elephant dung to the canvas to represent one of the Madonna's bosoms. Well...a mighty hew and cry was raised in the city of Gotham over that! The Mayor himself, Rudy Giuliani, excoriated the museum for exhibiting such a work of sacrilege! That the elephant dung was reportedly used as a symbol of fertility did not mitigate the (rather theatrical) outrage of (some of) New York's Catholics. I drew this as a coded commentary on the hullaballoo...coded because it was drawn for the "Halloween Issue" of the employees' newsletter at my place of work, (situated not far from City Hall), and I wasn't sure whether a more direct response would be received well or badly, given that Giuliani was very popular with very many people who were not me. The child in the forefront with the vampire costume was my representation of a certain pugnacious and occasionally (for tv) cross-dressing mayor.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Parasites du Jour

Here is a strip I did in collaboration with John Kelly, journalist, former university Public Relations and Communications honcho, former media man for a major U.S. professional sports league, and all-around writer, father, and bon vivant about town. At the time I did not know and had not met John. Our nexus was cartoonist, illustrator, and nemesis of all that is nice and clean, Danny Hellman. John had written this script about the parasites that surround and inhabit us and he wanted someone to illustrate it. An introduction was made and the script was provided, and I agreed to draw the pi'tures! (In the "Intro to Zoology" class I had taken in junior college years earlier, our instructor, himself a parasitologist, spent a good portion of class informing us of the awful beasties that, invisible, were out there in the world, waiting, and often succeeding, in ways often amazingly circuitous and unlikely, in penetrating the fortresses of our bodies, with variably nasty results. I had been terminally skeeved out, and so I was primed to draw this! Years after drawing this--in fact, the night before 9/11--I was in the now-gone Astor Place Barnes and Noble in NYC and I bought a book about parasites, as I had never lost my squeamish fascination with these critters.) In my drawings, I elaborated on John's script at times. I never did learn whether John was happy with what I had done, but he told me by IM moments ago that he'd be "happy" if I posted this, so I assume he liked it. This strip was published in a late issue of LCD, the irregular periodical formerly published by primo independent music radio station WFMU, broadcasting out of New Jersey. The originals of this strip were exhibited at one of the Max Fish cartooning salon exhibitions I described in my previous post. When Danny Hellman first saw this, he said the woman in the last panel looked like Kate Moss as painted by Margaret Keane. Bingo, Danny!

Punk Frankenstein Meets the Hot Mumma!

I don't remember why I drew this picture. Probably for no other reason than that I had the idea in mind and it amused me. I had no expectation of it being published or used anywhere, so that was not the motivation. I did exhibit it, along with another drawing (or two?) at one of the annual cartooning exhibitions held at the long-gone but dearly missed art bar, Max Fish, on Ludlow Street, just below East Houston. The area was very different then than now. These shows were curated by Danny Hellman and featured New York's creme de la creme of talented and hip alternative cartoonists, such as Kaz, Tony Millionaire, Hellman himself, and many more, along with the unknown and unwashed aspirants to become peers of the aforementioned. Some few of them made it, most did not.

Childhood's End, Part Two

I happened to log in a few days ago, on March 22, 2016, and I saw it had been a year to the day since I last posted anything. So, I've scanned some things I will be posting for the enjoyment of the phantom followers of this site. This one is a quick strip I did over 20 years ago. My good friend John Terhorst and I were going to be attending the 50th World Science Fiction convention in Orlando, Florida, (the state from which we both escaped). John had the idea to put together a funny minizine related to the con. This was my contribution. Any who have attended these cons knows there are areas where flyers, informational bulletins, and media detritus of all sorts are stapled, stacked, or dropped by the denizens of the cons for the attention and interest of other con denizens. Most of the material has to do with the days' programming and events and the night's parties. Then there is the miscellany, of which our zine was but one example. I found the zine recently, and I may post the whole thing at a future date.