It brings back weird memories

aspI have a friend who can’t read or write. He doesn’t know that I know, but I found out one day after showing him this, today’s comic. Lots of my comics are old comics that were never published before. This asp/snake one is one of those.

About 10 years ago or so I showed him this comic and he didn’t laugh. I said, “Don’t you get it?” And he said, “No,” with a straight face. I asked, “How can you not get it?” I was a bit upset, feeling that my comic was worthless. And we had a minor argument. It didn’t last but when I found out he couldn’t read months later, I felt awful.

Every time I see this comic I think of that. I haven’t seen him for awhile, but other than the literacy or lack of it, he is one of the most intelligent people I know. He can fix almost anything, he knows something about everything, but he has that one flaw which is a shame.

He owned a small business in town. For so long I tried to get him to take credit cards so he would get more sales. He lost so many when he told people he didn’t take credit cards. I told him about Square and how easy it is to use for vendors. But now I know it is because his lack of reading was probably a hindrance in him understanding how to operate the credit card processing system once it was set up. I guess there is some reading involved when people hand your their card. I’m assuming his wife handled the other business things – like the books and paying bills. She didn’t work with him, but I guess whenever she could she handled that stuff.

Anyway, I love this cartoon, but it always has that weird memory for me when I see it, even though it’s been redrawn and redone, it still has that affect on me.

No need for a vacation

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Me getting out of the water on Key Biscayne.

I was mentioning going to the beach every day in a previous story. I did do that for many years. I need to get back to that. I live right near the beach but I’ve neglected to go. But again, for many years I would be there daily.

Living in Miami, I had many choices and I would be all over. I would go to Miami Beach or Key Biscayne or Matheson Hammock – wherever the mood struck me. Sometimes I would go for an hour to just have lunch and then I’d get back to work. Other times I would spend the day. The first time I ever had sushi was at Matheson Hammock, I got it at a local store and ate it at a picnic table. It was the first time I put the whole ball of wasabi in my mouth, too, not knowing what that putty-like green ball was!

There was a period of time, maybe about three years of my life, where I didn’t travel anywhere, and I was an avid traveler, so this was odd for me, but I don’t think I noticed it. My mother and one of my cousins thought it was because I was afraid to fly. But it wasn’t. My life was perfect, I felt no need to go anywhere “to get away.” And it was true.

I was a printing broker, so my life consisted of working a few hours in the morning – that was it, by 11 am I was free for the day! I would have lunch and then head to one of the beaches. I would come home, shower and many days go to happy hour with friends, then head home and repeat the next day. This was my life. I didn’t need a vacation from vacationing.

Since the pandemic and all the changes we are going through, I feel that that part of my life may return. I’m doing a lot of cartooning now and I could easily fit the beach in around that.

Which reminds me. There was one period where I would go to the beach, I would have a rule – I couldn’t leave the beach until I came up with two cartoon ideas. And I managed to come up with two a day that way! I sold a lot of comics to newspapers and magazines back then – I guess the ideas I got on the beach where pretty good; good enough to be published!

Kayaking, beaching and cycling

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Me boating.

board-comicToday’s comic came to me when I was watching a couple of paddle boarders the other day. I live on the bay and am always seeing some action on the water. Since the self quarantining, there has been a lot of activity during this period. I guess people are getting bored sheltering in place so they are hitting the water, and that’s an easy way to be out and about and still shelter in place.

I see more boaters, kayakers, and jet skiers and paddle boarders – more than ever. Which reminded me that I haven’t done any of this lately. I’m not sure why. I used to bicycle a lot and roller blade, too, but don’t do that much either anymore.

For so many years I went to the beach daily, sometimes for an hour, sometimes for five hours, but it was almost a daily thing. I would go to different beaches, some to swim, some to layout, some to just eat lunch at a picnic table and then get back to work and so on. For many years I met my friends on the boardwalk on Miami Beach late in the afternoon after work and we would run – then go to happy hour – not a great combination, but that was our life!

Sometimes I would go alone and hang out on the boardwalk until it got dark. I used to love the tranquility and the twilight hour being at the beach. Then I would head home and do it all again the next day.

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 guess I didn’t have to be alone, 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.

Peaceful protest

weekend1

I went to a protest march in our town yesterday, I live in a small village and it was a small crowd. They marched from one end of town to City Hall at the other end. There were thousands of people in downtown Miami, a few miles away, but this was our own thing.

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It was nice and peaceful with all locals, people who know each other.

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I was a bit perturbed at some businesses who felt the need to board up, I found it insulting to the neighbors and the village.

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That’s me perturbed.

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I did laugh that the one photo shows a bar/restaurant boarded up and next door is an expensive jewelry store which is not boarded up. I guess old fish sandwiches are more in demand than diamonds. But I know – the jewelry store has special bullet proof glass that cannot be penetrated, but it just looked funny side-by-side.

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My earliest memory involved a cartoon

fredflintstoneOver the years when I’ve been interviewed, I have been asked who my cartooning influences are. The first is Hanna-Barbera and next is Charles Schulz. I remember drawing Fred Flintstone as a little kid, maybe I was five years old or younger.

I think, because The Flintstones seems like it was for adults, so I am not sure why I would love it so much.

But I do know that my earliest memory of all time, you know, in my whole life, my earliest memory was me, at two or three years old, running around our Brooklyn apartment – naked – trying to get away from my mother, who was trying to get me in the bathtub and Huckleberry Hound was coming on the tv – the theme song was playing! I can sort of picture that.

huckleberryhoundI don’t think I have an earlier memory, so it’s quite interesting that a Hanna-Barbera cartoon is my earliest memory. Is that crazy? I’m surprised I didn’t draw Huckleberry all the time. But I do know I used to love those Hanna-Barbera cartoons – along with The Flintstones it was Huckleberry and Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw and so on.

I’m trying to not change the subject of what’s happening in our country these days, but need to post here daily and don’t wish to repeat what you see on the news every day. It almost reminds me of Al Roker and the weather – the news people show murder, rape, riots and then, “Here’s Al with the weather!, which I’ve always found stupid.

Wrong perceptions

cdsA couple of summers ago I was walking through Times Square with a couple of my cousins, we were coming from seeing a play and heading to the car or subway or something. A black guy approached us and handed me one of his CDs. It was free and as so many guys do, he just wanted to get his music out there so he was passing it out.

It sort of looks like this photo only there were hundreds of people around going in all different directions. It was crazy and crowded, like Times Square usually is.

I sort of shrugged it off and said, “No thanks,” and we kept walking. But the guy’s response was quite disturbing. He seemed to think I was some sort of white dude from Iowa or something who never saw a minority before and he said, “It’s ok man. I’m a black dude. This is what we look like, we’re human, we’re harmless. Get to know us!”

I was shocked that he profiled me like that, which is totally the opposite of me, and I’m sure he himself is profiled every day of his life, but I turned him down because of so many reasons – basically I wouldn’t listen to his music. My music tastes are stuck in the ’80s and ’90s, so it wasn’t my thing. I also didn’t want to take the CD and end up throwing it away or throwing it aside in the back seat of the car or something, you know, wasting his money, and also I don’t think I even have a CD player! Also, in Times Square, there are people coming at you from every which way trying to hand you something or talk to you, it’s a crazy place, you sort of duck everyone subconsciously as you walk through. We were only there because we had to cross through to get out from the theater where we saw the play.

But of course disturbing about this is how the guy thought I perceived him, which was 100% wrong, just like his perception of me was totally wrong. It makes me sad whenever I think of it. What do I do in the future, take the CD, thank the guy and be on my way? Maybe.

Black Out Tuesday

black-out-tuesdayToday is Black Out Tuesday. Many cartoonists and entertainers are posting a black box on social media instead of the usual posts.

You will see this on my social media pages. There won’t be a comic today out of respect for George Floyd, his family and the protesters. I stand with my black neighbors and friends.

Interestingly enough I learned that using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter on these posts on social media drowns out the story for those following current events. So that is the hashtag to follow if you want up-to-date social media posts on Instagram, Facebook and the others.

You can donate to the Black Lives Matter Fund here.
And the ACLU here.

Today’s political cartoons

I’m sick over what is happening in our country today. Here are some political cartoons that ran this weekend regarding the Minneapolis/George Floyd murder.

The Travel Examiner

My sister-in-law mentioned something from years ago – a travel newspaper I used to publish called The Travel Examiner. I did it for two years. I can’t believe that she remembered it and remembered the name, it was so long ago.

I was thinking of my old boss Ron Miller just last week. He got me started in the newspaper and comics business. He was an insistent man. I remember I got a call early one summer morning, I think I was off from college, he wanted to meet me, he asked me to come into the newspaper that day. I had sent him my comics and was all excited that I would get my comics published in his newspaper – actually newspapers – he owned a slew of them.

I went in and it turned out he wanted me to design ads in the production department. He sat me down and gave me a small ad to create, it was probably the size of a business card. I had never done this before and it took me quite awhile. He said to me, “It’s costing me more to pay you than the ad is worth!” And I told him I wasn’t there for that!  But I ended up getting the job and that put me on my start.

headlinesI remember years ago he told us about the newspaper pages come out as one piece, something called pagination. We stood there in wonderment at what he was saying. Back then we used razor blades and big large Compugraphic and Varityper typesetting machines. There was even just one machine that made headlines. That’s the machine that did headlines in the photo. We did everything separately and pasted it all together, using a waxer, or waxing machine. Where the photos went is where we placed red boxes and the camera-man and stripper would strip in the photos separately. So we could not imagine a page coming out as one whole piece when he explained that to us.

I published many comics in the newspapers, I learned the printing and newspaper business from Ron and it gave me a good life all these years as I started my own business and printed many publications and other things for people over the years, including school newspapers and such.

I was thinking about The Travel Examiner and remembering that after two years I had to shut it down because Ron and others at the newspaper plant gave me a hard time. I felt it was jealousy at the time – you know, that they didn’t want competition, but now I am remembering what happened – for two years – once a month, they printed the paper for me, which was actually a sort of travel magazine on newsprint –  and I never once paid for that! I had like 20,000 or 25,000 issues a month printed for free. He never billed me, and me being a stupid kid, never expected to be billed. I guess I thought it was a perk of the job, you know, working at the newspaper plant. But I don’t think he ever explained what happened and he just stopped printing. I ended up sending the stuff to the Naples Star on the west coast of Florida for a bit, but that got old and I ended the newspaper.

I remember one time Ron called me over to his house.  I went over and he took me out back. He was so proud, out in his backyard, surrounding the pool, sitting against the hedges was THE MIAMI NEWS – the actual blue 10 foot high letters! It must have been 1990 because if I remember right, The Miami News stopped publishing at the end of 1989. So there they were – the actual letters from the building! He loved newspapers that much, and so did I.

Ron is gone now, but I still know his kids who are my age, they still run the newspapers today.

I have all the issues of The Travel Examiner somewhere, I think in my spare room and also I think there are issues at my parents’ house.