Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by Egyptian mythology, history, etc. Earlier last week, I saw another illustrator do her take of Cleopatra. She titled hers ‘Cleocatra.’ Thought it was so cute, I decided to do my own version. Hand drawn, done in pen and ink.
Caturday isn’t over yet. Here’s my weekly Caturday sketch featuring some key figures of the Beat Generation as cats. Hanging out in front of City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, California are William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Jack Kerouac. When I visited San Francisco in 2000, I had a drink in the bar that was right across the street from the famous bookstore. It was late night, and had just arrived in town. Didn’t get a chance to go inside the shop. Perhaps next time.
This is developing into an annual tradition. Instead of blogging about fireworks, family BBQs, and three day vacations, we’ll focus on the historical aspect regarding July 4th.
Today in American history 101, July 4th celebrates the country’s independence. Regardless of your political beliefs, let’s remember the Revolutionary War. Where barefoot colonialists battled against the British monarchy. Despite all odds, the American colonialists won. You can quickly read up more about July 4th here.
This year’s historic July 4th sketch was based on the famous painting by Archibald M. Willard. Originally titled ‘Yankee Doodle‘, Willard was a veteran of the American Civil War. His grandfather was also an American Revolutionary solider. The original painting itself was snubbed by art critics. Instead, the painting found it’s appreciative audience among the everyday citizen. The painting has found a place in modern pop culture, receiving nods ranging from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 to album cover art by the NYC 1980s Hardcore band Warzone.
Psycho Bunny on the other hand, thinks spirit of ’76 means something else. As in wine and spirits.
Last week was my birthday. Unlike last year, I decided not to do anything major. Instead, my celebrations were more low key. Before going to dinner, I took in an exhibit of artist Pamela Colman Smith. Not much is known about her, except for one fact. She is the artist behind the most famous tarot deck of them all, the Rider-Waite.
Not much is known about Pamela Colman Smith. She lived in England, Jamaica, and Brooklyn, NY. Colman-Smith was a student at the famous art school, Pratt Institute. For a while she earned a living as an illustrator and theater designer. Along the way, she became of member of The Golden Dawn. Other members of The Golden Dawn included W.B Yeats, Bram Stroker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Aleister Crowley, and Arthur Edward Waite.
It was A.E. Waite who commissioned ‘Pixie’, for artwork. Some of A.E. Waite’s influences was Eliphas Levi and Sola-Busca Tarot, originally from Italy. In 1909, the deck was published by The Rider Company. The Rider Company still remains today as an imprint of Ebury Publishing, A Penguin Random House Division. Hence, why the deck is titled Rider-Waite. Technically it really should be named Rider-Waite-Smith.
The U.S. copyright for this deck fell into public domain in 1966, with notable exceptions. In the U.K., and Europe, according to the EU, copyright is slated to end in late 2021.
As for Pamela herself, her own illustration career only went so far. After a while her career petered out. Not much is known about her, and this blog post doesn’t really help in the bio department. Sadder still, she died as an obscure creative living in poverty.
Apparently she only received pittance for her work towards the Rider-Waite deck.
While I was this close to catching Ministry live, instead I was given tickets to two concerts happening over at the St. George Theater. Not many people outside of Staten Island know about this outer borough venue.
First of all, when one lives in NYC, Staten Island is kinda-sorta considered the “forgotten borough.” Everyone talks about Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and even Queens. Queens being the borough I live in. Staten Island however, hardly shows up on the radar.
Don’t count out Staten Island however. Within this overlooked borough contains some hidden gems. For starters, you can board the Staten Island ferry for free. Once boardedm one can purchase some cheap beer for the duration of the ride. Cash only, please. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.
Once the ferry hits St. George Terminal, the fun doesn’t end there. Only a few blocks away is the landmark venue which went into renovated starting in 2004. If you’re a fan of old architecture, particularly from the vaudeville circuit, then you will appreciate this establishment. The theater itself was designed in Spanish and Italian Baroque revival style interior. It’s original intention was to be a movie palace, popular during from 1900s to 1940s. The Art Deco and Egyptian revival styles was particularly majestic. Like the Drive-Ins, these movie palaces started to decline after the end of World War II, and the arrival of television. During the 1970s, a few of these movie palaces began to show porn to avoid closure.
Luckily the St. George theater was spared from the wrecking ball. It’s currently under non profit status as it was reborn as a concert venue. It also has schedule of classic films to be shown on the big screen.
Having been curious about the St. George theater since Todd Rundgren played there, I finally had a chance to check it out on October 20th, 2018. It was to see a concert by ’80s Alternative legends The Psychedelic Furs. I already saw them during their height of their popularity sometime during the mid-80s. Figured seeing them again decades later in 2018 was a perfect excuse to visit the venue.
Going to see the Psychedelic Furs reminded me of why I fell in love with music in the first place. In 2018 was the opportunity to catch many Metal concerts. 2018 was a Metal kind of year. However. My first love will always been anything Post-Punk, New Wave, ’80s Goth, classic Punk or ’80s Alternative. Seeing the Furs live was the reminder I needed. Accompanying me was my friend Kitty Hawke, a member of the NYC Goth band Night Gallery. She had also seen the Furs live back in the ’80s.
We had time to kill, so we checked out the local (female owned) comic book store Hypno-Tronic. Soon it was time to catch the gig. We were not disappointed. Our seats were floor orchestra – yes! Basically the Furs did all their greatest hits. Songs like “Pretty In Pink”, “Ghost In You”, “Heaven”, and “President’s Gas.” The encore was an awesome rendition of the song “India” from their first album.
Afterward the concert we walked around the venue checking out the interior. There were a few Halloween decorations up for display.
Exactly two months after the Psychedelic Furs was a chance to see another concert at St. George. It was Southside Johnny and The Asbury Dukes, with David Johansen opening. Okay, straight up. I only went for two reasons. One, to see David Johansen live. Second, to see the St. George theater during the holiday season. Not that I have anything against Southside Johnny. I was just never into that Bruce Springsteen/South Jersey sound. Not my thing.
Arrived at the St. George theater just in time as David Johansen began his set. For those who don’t know, David Johansen was the singer of the proto-Punk/Glam band The New York Dolls. Later on, he reinvented himself as Buster Pointdexter with the pop hit “Hot Hot Hot.” Back in 2006 to 2011, the NY Dolls reunited thanks to Morrissey. Never had a chance to see any of the Dolls’ reunion gigs. Had to settle for the documentary about Arthur Kane as seen on Amazon Prime. So the St. George show was the next best thing.
For the record, he only did one NY Dolls song. Lonely Planet Boy. Which was okay, it was to be expected. David did a great cover of that Erma Franklin song “Piece of My Heart” but we all know Janis Joplin’s version. Other tunes from the set list included Frenchette and Mannish Boy, a Muddy Waters cover.
The majority of the audience was there to see Southside Johnny and The Asbury Dukes. I wasn’t feeling this crowd at all. It was the most suburban environment I’d been in a long time. Bad news. There was a guy sitting a few seats away from me sporting a vintage plaid suit, but after David Johansen was done, he hightailed it. As for myself, I wore a black sweater, a loose light colored blush velvet top, black pants and Doc Martin boots. Looking respectable. Meanwhile, I had grandma sitting behind me, giving me silent stink-eye thanks to my blue hair. She glared at me, looking at me as if to say “what are YOU doing here!?!” You think after years of post-feminism, ladies would stop at being unnecessarily catty. I’m ignoring her, minding my own business. Then Negative Nancy tapped my shoulder in very nasty manner. She demanded that my cell be turned away from her. Geez. What did I do to her? Even though I wasn’t even using the smartphone. You know, like what everyone else normally does at shows nowadays, which is tape the entire concert instead of actually watching. She was using any excuse to be a hater. Then she gossiped loudly with her friend. Welcome to the Trump era.
The way the last three months of 2018 was going, this was no surprise.
The lady’s behavior did throw me off a bit with her attitude. All year, and this was the only truly bad experience with my 2018 concerts.
It’s okay. In-between bands, I pretended to to rest my head on my cellphone case, as I silently but slowly turned my cell around so the cover could face her. It was a Rip n Dip design. The one with the cat giving you the middle finger. You’re welcome.
I had a much better time at the Psychedelic Furs gig. Knew I should’ve worn my Junji Ito shirt. Because everyone should have at least one offensive shirt in their wardrobe. For occasions like I just described. For the record, I own a few.
Despite grandma having her Geritol moment, the set by Southside Johnny was decent. They’re fine musicians. Just not my cup of tea. The audience loved them though. Their encore was their biggest hit “Having A Party.”
After the show was over, again I walked around taking photos of the venue. One of the two reasons why I showed up.
Heading towards back to Manhattan, I met three ladies dressed like holiday fairies. It was perfect for the winter solstice. They were also much, much nicer than Geritol lady. Next time I shall hang out with them.
Been promising to post the commissions I’ve been doing lately. Here’s one of them. My friend Ariella requested artwork which had Ike Eisenhower kicking Trump’s ass.
Ariella Kadosh is also an artist herself. Originally from Brooklyn, she’s a history buff. Ike Eisenhower was chosen for a few reasons. She is quoted as saying: “I’m an ex Republican. I’m not sure how to put how I feel in words, so I commissioned Michele to draw it for me.”
The ironic thing is, if Ike Eisenhower was president today, he would’ve been considered a moderate Democrat. Quite possibly he might be the last great Republican president. Years before the GOP turned into a hot ultra conservative mess.
As a rule I don’t like to discuss politics too much. Particularly on a blog where I’m trying to promote my art. Politics never unite people. Instead it’s just like organized religion. Built to divide, conquer and control. No matter what one believes in or says. However. Occasionally there’s exceptions to the rule. This being one of them. After the past week of the Kavanaugh hearings, we might need some comic relief.
Below is the final result. Done with pen, ink, watercolor and a bit of glitter/shimmer watercolor. You just can’t see the shimmer in the scan. The illustration was purposely made to be in a gaudy, cartoon-y style. Check out Trump’s mouth. Got the idea from another fellow artist on Instagram.
Anyway, it’s late. Time for bed. Stay tuned for more commission postings.
Last month we went to check out the Stanley Kubrick photography exhibit over at the Museum of The City of New York. Stanley Kubrick has always been one of my favorite film directors. Back in high school, I made it a mission to check out every film Kubrick directed. This was way before the days of Netflix. If it wasn’t available on VHS, then I would hit up all the revival movie theaters. You millennials have it so easy nowadays!
Luckily films are now more easily obtainable. If it can’t be found on Blu Ray, DVD or through a streaming service, there always places in NYC. For example, Videology Bar and Cinema over in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Anyway, I sought out most of Kubrick’s films. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Lolita, the prophetic Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and of course, A Clockwork Orange. Even sat through that yawn fest Barry Lyndon. Although I never managed to catch the earlier films like The Killing or Paths of Glory. Did watch Eyes Wide Shut much later on – despite my disdain for Tom Cruise.
Before Kubrick became an influential film director, he got his start as a photographer for Look Magazine. At the exhibit, open until Oct. 28th, 2018, you can see the gritty yet candid detail that would later show up in Kubrick’s films. Kubrick was just 17 years old when he sold his first photo to Look back in 1945. These photos also show how NYC was from 1946 to 1951.
New York City wasn’t just Kubrick’s subject. At the exhibit, a Kubrick photograph of a tattooed and pierced carny was not accepted by the editors of Look. Apparently the photo was thought as ‘too extreme.’ It was decades before the ‘Modern Primitive‘ movement, which led to the current acceptance of body modification.
The photo below particularly stood out. It’s of professional boxer Rocky Graziano. Graziano was trying to repair his reputation when Look did a feature on him. Boxing later helped Kubrick make the transition from photography to filmmaking.
After walking through the Kubrick exhibit we checked out the rest of the museum. Right next to the Kubrick showing was the last day of Rebel Women, which inspired this sketch done back in August.
At the other end of the floor was a retrospective of the feminist era. It showed the beginning of the women’s rights movement, ending with one of Hilary Clinton’s infamous pantsuits.
Which leads to the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week. This sketch isn’t just a sketch. This weeks shows the cover of the latest Psycho Bunny issue. If all goes well, hopefully Psycho Bunny issue 3.5 will be released at the end of October.
This may or may not be the final version of the cover. It really depends on finding the original typeface of the lettering used for the A Clockwork Orange film poster. For now you have an ideal about what the front cover looks like. Other details forthcoming. If the latest issue is completed in time, it’ll mostly likely debut at Incredicon, taking place in Upstate NY, Oct. 28th. Incredicon is a very small con, but it’s been a while since I’ve tabled at a comic book convention.
My life has been busy as of life. You however, still have time to check out these social media links:
One of the things I hate are fireworks on the Fourth of July. Always thought they were kind of stupid. Okay, I get the significance of such. However, every July 4th, lots of people get idiotic. Just don’t see the point in blowing up stuff.
In the U.S., especially once you drive out of the major cities, you’ll come across lots of those fireworks superstores. You’ll especially come across them in the South and Midwest. It’s amusing to find them in trucker stops. It used to be a slight novelty to me because fireworks are illegal in New York City. Once you hit an area like rural Pennsylvania, buying fireworks is as easy as apple pie.
No thank you.
What really impresses me are those who do historical reenactments, such as the American Civil War, or The American Revolution. That to me, takes dedication, intelligence, and skill. A bit of imagination never hurt anyone. Personally, I never took part in a real life reenactment, but love the period outfits.
One drawback though is people tend to romanticize history. For starters, people often forget about Native Americans. Second, in reality, those who fought on the colonial side against England, went into battle despite everything. Many on the American side were so destitute, they fought barefoot. When wintertime came, those without proper footwear wrapped rags around their feet. You could see the bloody footprints in the snow. Another interesting fact was during the American Revolution, England had spread it’s military so thin. Remember, at one time, Great Britain was actually a genuine empire. As in ‘the empire on which the sun never sets.’It applied first to the Spanish Empire, then the British. Due to this, the British brought in German Hessians. In other words, paid professional soldiers to do the dirty work on England’s behalf. Yet some Hessians decided to stay in the States after the war. Of course, if it wasn’t for France’s help, we still might be pledging allegiance to the U.K.
There’s a whole lot more to the American Revolutionary war, which leads us to what we now call Independence Day, or simply known as the 4th of July. The United States is still a relatively new country compared to the rest of the world. Some, including myself, feel that right now, the U.S. is in a very dark period. You may not even feel like celebrating July 4th. Therefore it’s important to reflect on this country’s roots, both good and bad. July 4th isn’t all about fireworks while barbecuing in the backyard with time off from work.
Not going to get too political here. Politics never brought people together. Music, art, education, science and love; that’s what brings people together. So here’s the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week for July 4th, 2018.
Get yourself some cool stuff on RedBubble, featuring my designs. There’s dresses, tee shirts, notebooks, etc. The notebooks, and the Quentin Crisp tees seems to be one of the best selling items. Just in time for Pride.
One of my hobbies is documenting what goes riding the NYC subway lines: Wildlife On The MTA. Cause if you can’t laugh, you’ll cry. MTA passengers know what I’m talking about. Even better: My WildlifeOnTheMTA Instagram is active once again.
Come back next week for a new Psycho Bunny sketch.