I spent July 4th alone

I spent July 4th alone. I don’t think I have ever done that before. In my whole life I was always with people. It reminded me of a few years ago when I did New Year’s Eve alone. I had never done that before, I was always with family or friends or at parties, but one year I was alone. And I liked it!

I didn’t like being alone for July 4th though. I normally would be in NYC, actually, The Hamptons, with my cousins. These photos are from a couple of years past in NY. I usually do the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest and at times have watched the fireworks from Manhattan when not in the Hamptons.  This one picture of Molly and me, in the car, on our way to The Hamptons last July 4th, is one of my favorite pictures. Molly is my aunt and uncle’s dog.

On Facebook yesterday, one of my memories popped up from three years ago – it was a little video I posted from a crowd at Long Island City, where I went to watch the fireworks over the East River, with Manhattan in the background. I don’t know how to save it and post it here or I would. There were literally tens of thousands of people there – all on top of each other. Wonder if that will ever happen again. I remember all of us trying to get on the subway back to the city after the fireworks – the crowds were backed up all the way up the stairs into the street. The same thing happened one year in lower Manhattan, near city hall, where the fireworks were over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Will we ever be in crowds like that again?

Anyway, one of my cousins called me early yesterday morning to tell me that it was still on – that everyone was driving out for the day. No one was sleeping over. They are all being quite careful in New York due to the coronavirus and that’s why New York went from having the highest rate, down to the lowest. I mostly miss my cousins and my aunt and uncle. I guess it’s all about them more than the City and Long Island. Hopefully I can see them in the Fall.

I guess I didn’t have to be alone yesterday, but I chose to be. I could have been with family, as our town and even my neighbors weren’t doing anything, but I know my family was doing things – boating, barbecuing, etc. Yesterday was the 14th day of me sort of self-quarantining after being at a family party 14 days before.

I didn’t want to say anything, but I was at this party for my nephew’s 2-year-old daughter along with maybe 50 other people. And not one person had a mask on and there was no social distancing. While it was all family, a lot of the people I didn’t know from his wife’s side of the family, maybe 50% of the people there – and they insisted on shaking my hand – even when I would pull it away, they would grab my hand! And my sister-in-law’s mother, who sees me all the time, insisted on hugging me – three times throughout the day!

So for 14 days I was freaking out – counting down the days until I was safe. Last week, a week after the party, my family had pizza night. I didn’t go and I explained why and they respected that, which was surprising, because in the past they would have said something like, “Get off your ass and get over here!” But they respected my decision.

Anyway, I spent July 4th alone. I didn’t like it. Hopefully next year it will be back to normal. Not the “new normal,” the old normal.

We made it to July 4th!

coconuthunt

So it’s July 4th weekend. Hard to believe we all made it to this date. I remember starting to shelter in place in March. I thought it would all be over by now. But I guess I was just fooling myself. This year July 4th will be different for so many of us.

Normally I would be in New York at this time – probably at my cousin’s house in the Hamptons for the actual July 4th holiday with the family. Many times I would be there for the weekend, but on the actual day, July 4th, I would be in the City watching fireworks over the river.

But for many years I did stay home and was part of big celebrations in our town. We did so much here from hot dog eating contests to fireworks with so much in between.

For a few years we had a coconut hunt! What we did was have painting parties for a month or two before. Usually on a Friday night at one of the local galleries, we had painting parties with wine and pizza. Anyone could come by and paint – and people did. By July 4th we ended up with hundreds of coconuts.

At a given time, we would have the contest. We would hand out clues to people and they would run out into the village trying to find coconuts. Certain coconuts were winners – for instance, the golden coconut was the grand prize coconut, then there were others. We had numbers on all the coconuts and they were called randomly at the end and people would win all sorts of prizes.

We even had Lucie and Desi Arnaz Jr. one year for July 4th. They recreated a famous Lucy and Desi Sr. photo at City Hall here in the village. Fun times.

Road trip?

asheville

Looking Glass Rock, NC

So I never made it to New York this year which is a regular summer thing for me this time of year. This sort of had me down for a minute until my friend Harry said to me, “Thousands of people are sick and dying and you had to postpone a trip. Thank God you are safe and healthy. Besides, there are thousands of other places you can go other than New York.”

And I thanked him and told him I needed to hear that. It’s true, we are all blessed to be healthy and safe, while many are sick and dying. I pray that this caronavirus ends already, I pray that no one else gets sick. Or dies.

I didn’t go to New York for different reasons – the city is still closed regarding restaurants, theaters, museums, they really are not set up for visitors, some of my cousins are still sheltering in place, so I wouldn’t really see them and mainly because of the quarantine – now there is a 14 day quarantine for people coming in from Florida for the tri-state area – NY, NJ and CT, three states I enjoy spending time in. But I sort of see it as a good thing. I have this problem where something happens twice and it becomes the norm – a habit for me. While there are all sorts of places to go all over the world, I keep returning to New York, out of habit, an obligation in my head, I suppose. Now that habit is broken.

I have always wanted to spend the summer in Italy, maybe on the Amalfi Coast, but again, most of Europe has a quarantine on American travelers, and I fully understand that.

One thing I always wanted to do is to rent a lake house in North Carolina for the summer and have an open door policy – you know, anyone can come and spend time there, in and out all summer. But for now I am thinking of flying up to Charlotte, spending time there, and checking out Lake Norman where I want that Lake House and then spending time in Asheville. I have friends who live there now and also friends who are visiting now. I’ve been checking in on them about the situation up there. Seems like places are open, not fully, but they aren’t shut down like so many other places. They are being cautious and social distancing, but it isn’t a ghost town, which is good.

I would then drive home to Miami, stopping along  the way to my favorite old cities – Charleston, SC; Savannah, GA and St. Augustine, FL. Then end up back in Miami.

I would take my time. Spend whatever time I like in places, three days here, four days here, a week here, and so on. I’m thinking of maybe doing this at the end of the summer, more when things open up and are safer hopefully, maybe August into September, spending Labor Day on the road. I’m still figuring that out in my head.

It’s the end of the world as we know it

mayan-calendar-print

I tried something different  with today’s comic – with the size of the comic. It’s a long, comic strip length panel, rather than the usual 5″ x 5″ square.

A while back I started drawing the comics in this format and liked the look and it gave me more room to work with, but in the end, I do like the even 5″ x 5″ square size.

Today’s comic, about the Mayan calendar came up because there is a lot of talk lately about the 2012 date when the world was supposed to end as being wrong. You may remember that the big round Mayan calendar ended on Dec. 22, 2012 and that was doomsday, when the world would end. Of course it didn’t. But there has been talk about this or next week being the end of the world, apparently the calendar was read wrong.

I did this comic back then. It was simply the one scientist saying to the other, “Hold up, there’s a second side!” But I embellished it for 2020 since it almost seems as if this is the end of the world with everything that is going on these days – there is something else crazy and newsworthy every other day it seems. So I just changed the text and there we go.

I remember drawing this at the time. The center artwork in the round calendar was very time consuming. I was running late for lunch, I was meeting two friends I remember, and I was trying to get it done before I left. I never like to leave an unfinished piece of work. So I am assuming I got it done before rushing off. I can almost see myself adding all the little tedious details at the time, sitting right here where I am writing this now – at the same desk.

What I also did today that is interesting, is that if you see the comic on Instagram – I tried something new. The comic scrolls. It is the one long panel, but it is not broken up, you literally scroll through the full panel. It was fun learning that and I’ll use it on future long length panels.

It’s all about the animals

the-zoo

There’s another tv show I’m addicted to now that I have found now that I’m home a lot – on Saturday night’s I watch The Zoo on Animal Planet. I also watch Saved By the Barn after that. The Zoo is rerun at all times during the week, too.

The Zoo is about backstage at zoos – mostly the Bronx Zoo but also there are zoos in Australia and the UK and other areas of the US including San Diego and Columbus, but the Bronx Zoo is featured mostly. It’s so sweet to watch how much the zookeepers love and respect the animals and how they dedicate their lives to them. It’s quite interesting, too; you learn a lot and you get attached to the people, almost as friends in my head now.

During the time that tigers tested positive for covid19 at the Bronx Zoo, they addressed it on the show. The tigers are all well now.

saved-by-the-barn

Dan McKernan and one of his buddies

As for Saved By the Barn, that’s a show where a guy named Dan McKernan who goes back to his family’s large farm and he turns it into an animal rescue for farm animals where they can safely live out their lives. They rescue animals from various places and almost treat the farm as a zoo, but only for farm animals, so you wont see giraffes or elephants, it’s mostly pigs, cows, goats and that sort.

I know the next time I’m at the Bronx Zoo, I am going to be looking for the zookeepers rather than the animals, now! They are sort of minor celebs in their own right.

An unassuming influence

dunagin1

Cartoonist Ralph Dunagin passed away last week. I always loved his work on the Dunagin’s People comic growing up and I see he worked on so many other things I liked like Grin and Bear It and The Middletons.

As I look at his work these days, I see so much of him rubbed off on me and I didn’t realize it. Apparently he was a big influence on my drawing style. I always tell people that Hanna-Barbera and Charles Schulz were my influences, but as I look at Dunagin’s work, I see my own drawing style – I got so much from him.

My faces look similar as well as the broken lines, which I like and also even simple things like shirt sleeves. I see it all in my work now. It seems as if he was my biggest influence without me even knowing it! Very unassuming!

dunagin3

dunagin2

Superhero face masks

face-masks

I like these superhero face masks, but I don’t know if I would wear them. The logo is too big.

I’ve seen some fun ones with Charlie Brown and Snoopy, I Love Lucy and others.

Right now I wear a solid black one, which I like, it’s a bit heavy though and I’m thinking of changing it. But I’ve ordered so many and unless you buy them and then try them, there is no way of knowing if they fit right or if you can breathe through them and things like that. I must have 12 of them about now, and only like one or two.

I do like this Batman one with the logo small to the side. What do you think? Too geeky?

People are going crazy with the masks now. I notice on tv, the news reporters are matching their ties now. If they have on a red tie, they wear a red mask, and so on.

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batman-mask

Too many logos on this one.

The demise of editorial cartoons?

farley

You can’t please anyone. Travels With Farley from June 23, 1977.

The Washington Post has an article about the slow demise of editorial cartoons and cartoonists, because they are offending some readers and I guess in this day and age, newspapers need to hold on to all the subscribers they can.

join-or-dieIronically, the first cartoons in newspapers were editorial cartoons from way back – in fact the first one ran in, 1754! Yup, in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. You may have seen it over the years, it’s right here, the “join or die” image, regarding the colonies.

I’m often concerned about losing followers or readers, not by what I post, but sometimes what they say – in the comments sections, mostly on Facebook and Instagram. I keep my mouth shut, but at times I want to argue. I have been known to delete some comments that are racist or stupid.

But it is interesting that a couple of complaints over a cartoon and newspapers would rather dump the whole editorial cartoon department rather than a subscriber or two. Which often makes me wonder since there isn’t the competition there was years ago. Most cities only have one newspaper, so there is nowhere else for a reader to go if they are in the daily newspaper reading habit.

I feel they are spiting themselves by unsubscribing to a daily habit that they have probably had most of their lives. It’s just so easy to just turn the page – sort of like turning the tv channel if you don’t like something, rather than complaining to the network.

Baking bad

baking-bad-comicToday’s comic really makes me laugh. I don’t know if it’s the drawing or what.

I was watching Breaking Bad as I usually do on Sunday and the thought came to me. So simple, yet so funny.

I know the characters so well that I didn’t need to look at a photo for context, I just know Walter White so well. I guess this is a mixture of two of my favorite things – Breaking Bad and the cooking shows I like to watch on Saturday mornings.

The World, The Sun, The Herald . . .

the-herald

I recently came upon this old photo of the New York Herald, which looks to be in the 1920s because the park is there in front of it and originally the park wasn’t there and the dress of the man in the photo looks to be that era. It’s one of the best photos I’ve seen of the old Herald, it’s the closest image I’ve surely seen, most are from a block away, which show all of Herald Square, but this – this is a nice, up close photo of the New York Herald.

It reminded me of this story I did last spring on the old newspapers of New York.

newspaperow

Images via Library of Congress

pulitzerI saw a great documentary on Joseph Pulitzer (left) the other night which of course was a lot about the New York World, which he published from 1860 until his death in 1911, after that his sons ran the paper (into the ground) and then in 1931, it merged with the New York Telegram to become the World-Telegram and then years later, in 1950, became the World-Telegram and Sun. You can see the Pulitzer documentary in full at PBS’s American Masters here. The story is great along with the images of the old newspapers and offices and of course, old black and white movies of street scenes and society at the time.

What was interesting about The World was that it seemed to have everything, especially on Sundays. It would print dress patterns, color comics, cut outs that kids could play with and had stories that were not breaking news, but features. Pulitzer and his staff would seek out human interest stories, which was a first for its time. He also designed interesting layouts and pages which were completely different than what was standard at the time – rows and rows of columns.

The World was one of the first newspapers to run comic strips and it started with the Yellow Kid which was stolen by Hearst his New York Journal (later the Journal-American).

One interesting item the documentary talks about was timing. When Pulitzer began publishing The World, New Yorkers started taking public transportation more often and the newspapers at the time were a perfect diversion on city transit.

I always loved old photos of the World building down on Park Row, across from city Hall. It’s gone as of 1955, and I found out from the Pulitzer documentary that it was due to Robert Moses, who seemed to destroy a lot of NYC in the name of progress, including the demise of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to which my father has not forgiven him to this day. Moses demolished the World and Times to build another ramp for the Brooklyn Bridge.

nysun

These clocks can still be seen on the Sun Building today at 280 Broadway.

The Sun building was next door, but eventually moved to 280 Broadway, on the other side of City Hall,  where the is still today. Clocks on each corner show the name – “The Sun – It shines for all.” The Sun came back in the early 2000s but is only online now.

newspaperros

Beautiful newspaper row.

The New York Tribune building was demolished in 1966 and is now Pace University.

The New York Times building at 41 Park Row is still there today. People mistakenly have claimed over the years that it was demolished for the Brooklyn Bridge entrance, too, but that is not the case. It is also part of Pace University today.

Of course, one of my favorites was the Herald, up on Herald Square, which is now an ugly box building housing Santander Bank and CVS, catty corner to Macy’s.

heraldsquare

The New York Herald.

tribune

Outside the Tribune Building.

The World Newspaper

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