Being creative

I may have a collaborator on a few future comics. Maybe more than a few!

My nephew sent me a bunch of comic ideas yesterday and most are excellent! He called me to tell me he was thinking or dreaming or something like that and he thought of so funny cartoon ideas, he told me a few on the phone and they seemed funny, but when he sent me the long list in writing later, they were really funny.

He’s an engineer, he owns a very successful factory and doesn’t seem like the type to even bother with comics, but it’s so nice knowing that he does think about comics.

So many friends and relatives read my work and it comes out in conversation or they may comment on a comic or blog post online or in person and it’s nice to know that I am entertaining friends and family, along with thousands of other people out there.

I saw a video or read something not to long ago where a cartoonist said, “Don’t write for the fans, write for yourself.” And that did make sense. All those years when I was publishing the daily news, I don’t think I ever thought of a person or people when I was writing, especially columns, where are personal. I just wrote and people read what they wanted when it was published.

I think if I had certain people in mind every time I wrote something that would have driven me mad. That’s not to say that at times I wondered if I was making certain people proud or whatever, but I never wrote or phrased things in order to please any one person. It just came out, sort of like this, which I’m writing now.

Same with the comics, once I started writing for myself, I felt less pressure. I know there have been a few lately that maybe everyone doesn’t get. But that’s alright. For those that get the gag, it’s an inside joke.

They are hitting the road

rv

So I went downstairs yesterday morning and there was a big RV sitting right outside and one of my neighbors got out. He told me that he and his parents are driving up to New York and will make stops along the way. How exciting! They are living one of my dreams!

I got this picture of him backing into the street and heading out to pick up his parents. He has his bulldog sitting next to him in the passenger seat and they’re off! They are driving to avoid the quarantine but I see that now NYC is setting up check-points at bridges and tunnels to check people entering the city, so I’m wondering how that will work out. New York state has had 0 deaths from covid19 in the past few days. They are terrified of outsiders coming in at this point.

They are sort of driving along the Hurricane route, but I guess they’ll be behind it so as long as it doesn’t do any damage, they are ok driving up I-95 I suppose.

I went inside and it’s just like you see on tv and in the movies. I said it was his little bit of Breaking Bad, although this RV was shiny and new. It wasn’t huge¬† but had plenty of room. There were two sleeping areas and a kitchen and table and places to sit. So great.

I still have it in my mind to drive up to the Carolinas at the end of the summer. I won’t do it in an RV, I’ll do it in a car, but RV travel across the country has always been a dream of mine. I think everyone thinks about that one time or other.

I wanted to take a picture of me inside, but felt silly with my neighbor standing there, but it looks like the one above. I wished them luck on their travels. They may be gone a month or so. So cool. I’m envious.

I love when people persevere

josh

My friend Josh

My friend Josh, a tv producer, is now the Key Lime Pie King around here. So from behind the camera to in front of it – he was featured on GMA yesterday. I remember one day he told me he wanted to get a cart to sell his pies around town. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but a week later he sent me a picture of his pink and green monster – he already had the cart and was selling pies from it around town.

Josh is a tv producer (you probably know so many of his shows) – who loves making and selling the best key lime pies! The grass is always greener, how many would rather be a tv producer (and cameraman), he filmed this whole thing himself since GMA was unable to send a crew out!

What I love about this story is the success of it. So many people are out of work due to the pandemic and this is the time to realize our dreams. It’s a time of change. And rather than sit around and mope, Josh started doing something he loves – baking!

Whenever I see one of these success stories on tv, I literally get up and touch the person on the tv. Seriously! If it’s a mom who started a million dollar business from her kitchen table, or a guy who saved the family farm or whatever, I am very interested in that. I thrive on that. I touch them so I can get a piece of them – a piece of their energy. I do that for people who also have come back from a bad illness or accident, too. And to know someone like Josh, who I would touch through the tv, is even better – especially since I can touch him in person!

josh-tom

Josh (right) and me selling pies last Sunday.

The grass is always greener

tom-maskI received a text from a friend in New York. I hadn’t heard from him since April. He saw one of my full moon photos on Instagram and said he was jealous and wished he was here in Miami.

But of course, I wish I was in New York right now. I would be there now normally if we were in normal times. I’m wearing my New York cap (and a mask) in their honor, as you can see here.

Oddly enough, New York and the whole tri-state and maybe most of the New England area are the safest places to be these days. But of course there is that pesky quarantine for visitors. Which I guess is a good thing. They rid themselves of the monster, why open the door and allow it to re-enter. But he tells me the “liveliness” is missing in the city these days. He used that word.

There was a time when I was content to just be, you know, not to get up and travel. But now I’m feeling restless. I still feel that I need to visit the Carolinas this summer. Being cooped up in the house for months would make anyone want to escape.

I’ve been out and about of course, but just to run here and there and get back home.

It’s weird but at the beginning of the shelter in place order back in March, I think, I said I was fine with it. I’m not now. I’m over it as I am sure you are, too.

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.

How did we arrange to meet before cell phones?

bethesda-fountain

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, NYC (photo by me)

I’m gonna miss New York this summer. But I think I needed a kick in the pants to get out of my rut, or maybe not a rut, let’s call it a habit. I do things twice and that’s it – it’s my habit. I go to the same restaurants all the time. I watch the same tv shows. I told you about my cousin who does a concert on Facebook every few Saturday nights, now that’s a thing for me and I have to text him and ask him if this is the week for the show. The world isn’t right (in my head) until the show goes on.

My habit was going to NYC for a large part of the summer for most of my adult life, or maybe even starting in high school. I would go most summers, but many years I didn’t, but it was a habit. I put off doing other things and going other places for this. But now I am open to do anything. I feel very free this summer by “being released” of my NY summer obligation, which is an obligation only in my own head.

I was thinking of all the times I would arrange to meet Miami friends who were visiting the city at the same time.

What I was finding interesting that years ago, before cell phones and email and all the communication we have now, I would meet friends and I am wondering how we did it and how they even knew I was going to be there. I mean, we didn’t announce things on Facebook back then, so I must have told people separately – “I’m going to NY next week or next month or whatever.” And the amazing thing is that we met up if they were going to be there at the same time.

I remember meeting my friend Albert a few times in the summer when he was up there visiting and my friend Vincent during Thanksgiving week and so on. But how did we know to meet? Did I tell them on November 1st “Let’s meet in front of the Empire State Building on November 23 at noon,” or “Let’s meet at the Bethesda Foundation at 1 pm on July 5,” and that’s how it happened?

They were always there at the place and time. But how did we communicate? We were all out of town, did we call each other at our cousin’s houses or hotels we were at?

I would always show up at such and such time on such and such date and there was the person I was supposed to meet. Talk about reliability. Now with all the communication abilities we have it is worse. “Text me when you are near,” “text me when you are there,” “text me tomorrow.” And still they don’t show up.

A friendly reminder

hal-and-high-waterIt’s amazing how my whole life has been enveloped by comics, yet a few years back I was sort of out of it and didn’t think I would draw again. Not for any special reason other than I was underwhelmed with so many comics in the newspapers and felt the heyday was over and I ran a very successful marketing business, so I felt that was my future.

About 12 years ago or so, my friend Victor bought me a bunch of stuff as a gift. I was reminded of it as I was cleaning out the closets recently. He bought me pads and pens or markers, something like that – for a birthday or Christmas gift and he said he hoped it would get me back into drawing and cartooning. It was the sweetest thought.

The funny thing is that it was all items I wouldn’t use and never have. And I’m sure anyone would feel that way because you use your own materials when creating art. If I was a painter, but then again no, isn’t that a song? Anyway, if I was a painter, I would have my own canvases that I preferred and my own paints and brushes.

But Victor’s thought meant so much more than the items themselves. And I am back on the road to cartooning history after all this time with a friendly reminder from those pads and pens.

As you know I post my comic daily online at TomFalco.com
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The naked guy had a mask on!

There’s this guy who rides his bike around town naked. Or almost naked. For maybe 25 or 30 years, he has been riding from one end of the city to the next, all over Miami, in a flesh colored thong, so he appears naked and basically is. He’s about 65 now, so picture it. And no, I don’t have a picture. But if you ask anyone in Miami about the naked guy on the bike, they’ll know who you mean.

I’m thinking of this because the other day I was with a friend at a bar, which was closed, but had an open pick-up window for food pick-up, and he was talking to the naked guy who was the only person on the street with a mask! He wasn’t naked at the time, he was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. But I found it funny that about 12 people where there and the only person wearing the mask was the usually naked guy – all covered up – on his face that is.

As for the naked guy, the gym won’t allow him in wearing a thong anymore, he has to have a shirt and shorts and whenever I see him at the bike shop in town he is in a t-shirt and shorts.

I got a comics idea about the situation the other day at the bar because something funny happened regarding the mask and the naked guy and my friend. Stay tooned.

Sheltering-in-place is creating new businesses

hotdogsIn this covid time, so many people are changing their lives. I have two friends who are sort of in the food business. I don’t know how far it will go, but there are many people who started food businesses in their kitchens.

One friend is selling hot dogs from a stand in front of his house, you know, like the ones you see in NYC. I stopped by and the whole neighborhood was out. He is doing an incredible business, especially at his prices. I only wanted a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut but I ended up with everything, two hot dogs for $16.00! I gave him a $20 and told him to keep the tip.

Another good friend of mine is selling pies and coffee! The coffee is ground in bags from some South American country, but the pies he is making in his kitchen from scratch. I took a couple of photos of him making the pies, but he is shy, which is the total opposite of his regular job – he is a cameraman and a producer of reality tv! I won’t mention the shows, but if I did, you would know them. So he prefers to be behind the camera, rather than out front.

He is selling the pies to restaurants and to people on the street. Those he sells in front of his house, like my hot dog friend. He has an idea now to go around on a bike and sell slices of pie! There is another guy in town that for years has sold hot dogs and hamburgers from his bike – so this is the idea with the pie.

Another friend started a bagel business, but they are gourmet bagels that sell from $9 to $15 each! And he sells coffee and other things. He sells 900 to 1000 bagels a day and sells out daily! Do the math! He has a regular storefront, presently he sells through a window since restaurants can only do take-out.

These are all village people by the way, they are from my village where I live. And they are my friends. There’s something in the water here I think.

My friend Arva

arvaA friend passed away yesterday – Arva Moore Parks – she was a Miami historian who knew everything there was to know about our city and she saved so many great historic places in the city.

When I was growing up, I admired her. Every time I read about her in the newspapers or saw her on tv, I was impressed.

Some years ago, I saw her on a plane. I was starstruck, totally starstruck. I didn’t say anything, but I was honored to be in her presence. She was a person of such high regard and honor.

Years later I met her at a local protest. I was covering the news for our town and she was there protesting the demolition of a 100 year old church. She came up to me and she knew me. She knew my name! She said my name! I had never met her before but she knew my name. From that day on we were friends. Not friends where we would talk all the time, but she would contact me about things and I would contact her about things and she even honored me by writing about me in her book about the history of Coconut Grove – our village.

Over the years whenever I was writing the news, fighting with politicians and trying to save the world, I would think as I was writing, “What would Arva think?” Would she agree with what I was doing? She always did.

One of our local PBS stations shows a little thing on the history of Miami every night in between programs. The first voice you hear is Arva’s and then you see her on the screen explaining one thing or another. The music at the beginning of the segment is always the same and when I hear it, I say out loud, “Cue Arva!” and I point to the tv and smile as she comes on the screen.

You can see her obit and see how great she was in this Miami Herald obit.

This is the video when I hear the music at the beginning, I know Arva is coming on next.