We went to the Beaux Arts Festival

A couple of us went to the Beaux Arts Festival in Coral Gables yesterday. It’s the 71st edition.

It was smaller this year, I guess due to covid, and they moved the location south a bit – it’s still on the University of Miami grounds, just not in the grassy, shady, lake area, near the Lowe Art Museum – it was more in a parking lot.

There wasn’t much food. A friend of mine, who fell off his bike, for like the 5th time, asked me to bring him his favorites from the festival, since he is still laid up – conch fritters and gyros. Only they didn’t have them. I think there were just a few food booths and nothing great. So I stopped by empty handed to visit him afterwards.

At the festival I saw a lot of friends, many of them are artists, who had booths set-up and were showing and selling their work.

It’s one of those things that comes around year after year at the same time – repetitive, but we look forward to it.

The weather was perfect, bright, sunny and cool – in the 60s. Today a cold front is coming through so it will be rainy and windy most of the day.

But that’s the beginning of a bunch of our art shows for the year. 2022 has started.

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Where are the newspapers?

Today’s newsstands – no news – but lots of candy and drinks.

I was in Boston and New York for a few weeks in November and I only saw one newspaper the whole time. It was on Thanksgiving morning at one of my cousins’ houses. She had the NY Times on her dining room table. The rest of the time I did not see any newspapers. No Boston Globe or Boston Herald. No NY Times, NY Post, Newsday or Daily News. Nothing.

Until a few years ago, I would see some at the newsstands. Some – not a lot. These days the “newsstands” sell candy and drinks. That’s it. Maybe an iPhone accessory or two, but gone are the days of actual newspapers.

I noticed at Hudson News in Grand Central, there are no newspapers and if there are – they are few and far between. They seemed to have cleaned the place out – the once cluttered store is now basically empty. Same with Hudson News in the airports. I was in three Hudson News locations in JFK Airport in November, and I tried to find some newspapers. Not one in any of the Hudson News locations.

Now this is a newsstand – an image from yesteryear.

I subscribe to the Miami Herald at home and am lucky when the paper arrives. I complained once and in return I received a nasty hand written note from the delivery girl, telling me I am lucky that I get a newspaper at all! No joke. Oddly enough, the day I was heading to Boston, I was waiting out front about 6:30 am for Uber. The news delivery girl drove up in her car – onto the lawn, did not get out – handed me the newspaper, backed off, and was on her way.

I remember when I delivered the Long Island Press as a boy. That’s a long story I won’t go into, but we didn’t do anything like that. We actually serviced the customers. I remember when it snowed, I walked around the block with the papers piled up on a sled.

Anyway, I was born in the wrong time period because if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I worship newspapers – printed newspapers, but over the years, I have read them less and less. They seem to be phasing out and that’s a sad thing. I wonder what it was like in the days of cities like NY having 14 daily newspapers – morning and evening editions.

I remember in the 1980s when the NY Post and the NY Daily News competed fiercely. There were maybe eight editions a day. It seemed that every time you walked by a newsstand in one day, the front page headlines were different with the different editions. I miss those days. Well, hell, I miss everything about the 1980s.

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Travel plans for the new year

Will Comic Con be affected by my travel plans in 2022?

Got most of my Christmas shopping done. Did it online. Now I just sit back and wait for the deliveries. I also made some donations to various causes, including Wikipedia! I had never donated to them before; an ad popped up on Facebook for them so I donated. I use them almost daily, so why not? I kept ignoring that thing at the top of their page this time of year, but some reason, the Facebook ad worked on me.

I know I should shop local, and I do. But I gave up mall shopping years ago, although the last time I was in a mall wasn’t that long ago. For my mother’s funeral in October, I needed a new pair of pants to go with my black suit. I put on a few pounds during the pandemic and the pants didn’t fit. So I want to the mall with a friend, got a new pair of black pants and we had lunch. So we shopped local.

Glad to say since I have been back to working out, I don’t need those over-sized pants. But I’ll save them just the same.

Speaking of suits, I was making airline plans for a wedding I have to got to in September. The reason suits reminded me of that is because I seem to only wear suits at weddings and funerals. The issue with the wedding date that it is going to screw up my NY Comic Con for 2022. The wedding is about three weeks before Comic Con, so I can either stay in NY for those three weeks or come home after the wedding and then go back again a few weeks later, which I don’t think I’ll do.

I was talking with a friend the other day and was telling her that after my long trips, I come home and totally forget them. Not on purpose, but I tend to forget the fact that I left town and I’m just right back into my routine here at home. I was just in New York and Boston and basically have no memory of Boston. Well, I do, but I have to actually sit down and think about it, it’s not like it just comes to mind as a recent memory.

My friend said the trick is to travel for short periods – like maybe three days – and go to many different places. I may just try that. I’ve been doing the opposite – going for long periods of times, but what is the point if I return home and feel as if I never left the house?

First world problems.

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More tourists? No thanks

So the US is now open to foreign travelers. I’m not gonna lie, I liked it without extra bodies and people.

I’ve only been to NYC since the pandemic started, and that’s a major hub for foreign travel. But the city seemed empty without all those extra people. I know the businesses welcome it, but those of us not in the travel industry are not keen on over-capacity airports and cities.

It reminds me of this guy I had an encounter with about three years ago in NY. He was British.

At one of my favorite hotels, the only complaint are the elevators. They are too slow. And one reason is that guests and the staff push all the buttons whether they are going up or down. So even if a person wants to go down, they push the up button.

One night I got in the elevator to head up to my room and the elevator stopped on another floor as I rode up. A guy gets in. Now after a week or more of this nonsense, I had to say something.

The conversation went like this:

ME: You are going up?

BRITISH TOURIST: No. Down.

ME. Then why did you push the up button?

BRITISH TOURIST: (Looking shocked at accosted by this big mouth American). What?

ME: Why did you push the up button to go down?

BRITISH TOURIST: They told me to.

ME: Who told you to? The front desk?

BRITISH TOURIST: Yes.

ME: Wait. You are telling me that the staff at the front desk told you to push the up button if you want to go down?

BRITISH TOURIST: (looking incredulous)

ME: (staring angrily at him)

BRITISH TOURIST: Look mate. How should I know, I’m from Britain.

ME: Britain? (then I shouted) AND YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE A LIFT??? (I stressed the word LIFT)

His eyes were bugging out now. He jumped back like Charlie Brown at the end of the Christmas episode. And then backed away from this nut (me).

When the elevator got to my floor, all the way at the top, I got out, he called me an a-hole, and he proceeded all the way down to the lobby.

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It’s a subdued NY Comic Con

So I made it to NY Comic Con 2021! I hopped on a plane and got myself to NYC.

It was a bit subdued this year, the massive crowds weren’t here. They Comic Con people, Reed Pop, have been very good about covid protocols and I guess regulating the amount of people permitted into the event is one of them.

It’s all the excitement of every year, just with less people.

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NY Comic Con

I was supposed to be in New York today for the start of NY Comic Con, but I’ve been delayed, due to a family issue. Hopefully I can get there this weekend.

I am all set for my visit to the Jacob Javits Center. There is an app called “Clear” where you enter all your covid info – you have to scan a copy of your vaccine card, then scan your driver’s license, then take a current photo of yourself and then scan yourself live, to show that the photo you snapped is you!

They’re being quite careful, but still, thousands of people will be there shoulder to shoulder.

My cousin Michael is there already, he is showing his work at a booth, he’s a cartoon artist. And the photos are making me “homesick” for Comic Con.

A friend asked me yesterday what the big deal was – same thing year after year. I couldn’t explain it. It’s an experience. From the moment you get on the 7 train and see that most of the people on the train are dressed as a character from tv, movies or the comics, to the large crowds exiting the Hudson Yards train station, heading west to the Jacob Javits Center.

It’s electric. The whole four days are electric. Indescribable.

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Coming up with ideas

People always ask how I come up with the cartoon ideas. They just pop into my head. I don’t usually dwell on things, although sometimes I do, I might have a great drawing, but I hate the text, so I’ll let it sit – sometimes for months, and then the gag hits me and I change the text/wording in the cartoon.

Today’s cartoon – the Columbo – “watch one” came to me while watching (watching, see what I did there?) North Woods Law. I wasn’t even watching, I just overheard one of the officers say, “It happened on my watch, I’ll handle it.” And the rest is history. I used Columbo because he’s my favorite detective and he was popular in a past cartoon, where he used Siri for help solving a crime. And I read recently that he’s become even more popular with people during the pandemic.

This one from last year – the “Ice Hole” one, I explained once before, it came to me while watching Life Below Zero. I wasn’t really paying attention either, I think I was dozing off, and I heard Chip Hailstone, one of the people on the show, say to his kids, who were going ice fishing, “Hey, there’s an ice hole!” And it made me look up and laugh and just totally struck me as being hilarious. And voilà – there was a comic idea.

I played around with it a bit. At first there was a bear hibernating behind a bush and he heard the guys say “ice hole,” and he looked up with one eye open. It was titled, “Trouble Brewing,” but I couldn’t get the image setting right, so I made it another ice fisher.

Most times I’ll read something or see something or overhear something and just twist it in my mind for a bit. So many times I hear something and rush to write it down so I don’t forget.

After the cartoon is done, I end up changing it in some way – up until the last minute – sometimes it’s something simple like a color change, other times it’s the wording or maybe the expression on a character’s face. Never a dull moment.

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Simple car and Uber issues

I had to go back and get something done on my car yesterday – flat tire. So I left the car and had to take an Uber back and forth. I made sure I had my phone on me at all times, didn’t want to go tracking it down again.

I didn’t know it was a flat tire, I thought it was a fan belt, because of the flapping noise the car made when I drove. The tire was not fully flat, so it was letting air out slowly and that’s why I didn’t know it was the tire. I had looked up what the sound could be online and it suggested the fan belt. I was telling the mechanic that’s it’s like WebMD, where you look up your symptoms and then you think you’re dying when you have a simple cough or something. Same with the car symptoms.

I brought the car in very early and the tire was fixed by 8:30 am, when he called me to pick it up.

Anyway, the Uber drivers – let’s talk about them. I had two, one to get home from the shop and one to go back and pick up the car. The first one and I talked the whole drive. He was very friendly and we talked about everything – but mostly about how over-developed Miami is these days, we reminisced about the old days.

The second driver didn’t say much. I had to force to say something every once in awhile, just to not appear rude in the back seat. It’s funny how people give off such different vibes.

Another thing I noticed is that each takes a different route to get to and from the same place. Even last week when I took Uber back and forth from getting work on the car, I noticed it. I guess their GPS adjusts to traffic patterns now, like Waze does.

In the past, I would tell them how to go, you know, how to take shortcuts; even going to the airport I would do that. But more than once we got stuck in traffic or hit a detour, so I keep my mouth shut now.

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