Today is ‘Tom Falco Day’

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Last year – February 14, 2020, was declared “Tom Falco Day” in the City of Miami. It’s hard to believe it has only been a year. While this past year seemed to fly by, in some instances it felt like 10 years in one! It is hard to believe this was only 12 months ago.

Last Feb. 14, I received a proclamation that says this date is mine! It may be Valentine’s Day to you, but to me it’s this. It may be just that one day last year, but I am claiming it in perpetuity so every February 14 is Tom Falco Day! That’s me at left with one of our City Commissioners, Ken Russell.

For 15 years I published the news and was an activist in our little village and I decided to end the publication that month. And it was so great of Ken and the local government, including the BID, to do this for me. So many of my friends and townspeople came out, such memories. It was bittersweet. It was so nice to see so many faces.

It was sort of a surprise, so I didn’t invite family or anyone. I was just told to show up Friday afternoon at 4 pm. I knew something was up, but not what, I knew enough to throw a jacket in the back of my car, just in case.

Not publishing the news every day is a lot off my shoulders, it was a big responsibility. Ending that responsibility felt like it was the last day of school. Forever! I remember that feeling.

I’m still around, I see the same people every day, but I’m part of the community now, I blend in, I’m not in everyone’s business. I like it this way.

Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day Tom Falco Day!

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I’m in the funny papers; literally!

I’ve been written about often but I’ve never been in a comic strip before! The other day I was in “Amanda the Great” by Amanda El-Dweek! So cool!

I interviewed her four years ago for my Huff Post column, but she mentioned it this week!

Here’s the 10 With Tom Column with Amanda.
And here’s Amanda’s daily comic strip.

I’ve been wanting to be part of GoComics, so I guess this week I am! 🙂

Manifestation

I was manifested the other day. Rather, I was the product of manifestation.

As you know, or man not know, I am a big believer in willing and manifestation.

I was talking to a friend named Marc about joining a new gym and he said a new place was opening in the old location. But he said it was quite expensive. So I didn’t feel like going there if it was an expensive gym. I can work out at a $30 a month gym, same as a $180 a month gym.

But anyway, I was waiting for a lunch order, so I said, what the heck and I walked over. The gym was closed so I went into the store next door. I asked a couple of ladies about the gym. They said they had not heard about it.

One asked me if I was Tom Falco. I said, “Yes, I am.” And the other said, “That’s so funny, we were just talking about you!” Now I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. But they knew of me, but had never seen me.

I told them, “Well, here I am. You manifested me!” And I guess they had.!

I’m making travel plans

I started making travel plans for the year. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a plane. Heck, it’s been so long since I left my city, I hardly left the zip code, this past year!

I made plans for NY for this upcoming summer. I usually spend part of June and July there, I miss my cousins and aunt and uncle. We do a lot together in the summer, actually we do a lot all during the year. We’ve been on the phone and face time a lot this year, compensating for lost time.

We spend time in the city, The Hamptons and Montauk.

Some of us were planning on spending time in Italy during the upcoming summer, but I think it might be best to wait before heading out of the country. Baby steps.

I also am in the process of making my Thanksgiving plans. Yes, already. I’d like to visit Boston and then take the train down to New York after a few days. Love that train trip, I wrote about it here one time.

Molly and me on our way to The Hamptons.

I am still up in the air about October and ComicCon. I’m not sure if it’s on this year, although I assume by October it will be ok to attend and I do love going apple and pumpkin picking in the Hudson Valley in October, so maybe I’ll plan that trip next.

Crossing my fingers that nothing has to be cancelled. But my premonitions are telling me that things will go well this year.

A case of not using pencils

The title of this post is a play on the great website called, “A Case for Pencils,” where Jane Mattimoe interviews New Yorker cartoonists.

I’ve tried to be a New Yorker cartoonist, but they don’t even look at the submitted work. I have many things in the queue; many since April, just sitting there, awaiting attention. They get too many submissions, I guess.

I love reading how cartoonists create their work and it seems that most, if not all of the New Yorker cartoonists still use pen and ink, – or pencils, as the title says. Me, I am all digital.


If I was interviewed for this, I would have to say, “I get an idea, jot it down on a pad. Go back to it and try to decipher what I wrote down. Then draw up the comic on my Surface Pro, and ta da – it’s done. The sad part is that there is no original art.

Years ago, I would eat all that stuff up. I would get the pen nibs suggested by cartoonists I liked and I would buy the proper weight bristol board they suggested. I spent so much time at the art supply stores. I even had a discount card that gave me discounts for shopping there often. Now I can’t remember the last time I stopped into one of these stores.

I remember when I was in college, since I majored in art, I was constantly buying new and exciting things I never heard of – tools that were new to me. My store of choice was Rex Art Supply in Coral Gables, which is no longer there. They have been gone long before the digital age.

I remember before fonts and computers and stuff I would get fonts on sheets that I would rub off on paper. It was for a word or two or three, not for paragraphs or anything like that. I mostly used it make or clean up logos and things like that. There was a time I could look at any font and tell you the name, now I barely notice if I’m using Times Roman or Arial.

I have a box somewhere at my parents house, I think in my old closet, where I have so much of this stuff left over – font sheets, rulers, erasers, pencils, etc. I need to find that box. Open it. And take in the smell – the smell of yesteryear.

My doctor died!

I went to my GP yesterday, for regular tests – cholesterol, etc. and he asks me if I have a new cardiologist. I said, “Why would I need a new cardiologist, I have, Dr. Barquet?” and he says, “He died.”

I thought I didn’t hear right. Apparently this youngish doctor died of covid in May. I was in shock. I couldn’t move for a minute. This guy was the sweetest guy ever. My GP told me he was so loved by the medical community that they are all still in mourning so many months later. My GP was in tears.

The crazy part is that he wasn’t part of the medical arts community, you know, in the medical office or hospital with hundreds if not thousands of doctors and patients every day. He bought his own building off from the madding crowd and only had his own patients. He didn’t use elevators or deal with masses of people every day as you would in hospital or medical arts building. He had a one floor office which only consisted of his staff and his own patients.

I had a cardiologist because one of my bothers passed away some years back. My youngest brother had heart or artery problems and as a precaution, doctors had my other brothers and me go to cardiologists for check ups. I would go every couple of years, I guess.

The first doctor I went to was not a nice or friendly guy. The few times I went to his office they would throw me on a gurney and start tests before I could open my mouth – hours later you were released. “I only came to ask you a question!” was my reply after hours of tests. The first time I was there 10 hours – six hours one day and then back another four hours the next! All tests.

This new guy was an angel. So low key, so humble. The first time I met him, we talked. Like humans. He didn’t throw me on a gurney and charge me for exhortation tests. Such a decent and nice human being. And to hear he passed away – I still can’t believe it.

After my GP mentioned that the doctor passed away. He said in a low voice, with his eyes down, “You know from what . . . ” And I said, “Heart disease?” Thinking that the heart doctor ironically had heart disease. But he said, “No.” And he continued to look down in sadness. And I said, “Covid?” And he shook his head “yes.”

I’m still in shock. I am sorry I didn’t know at the time. When I googled it, I see it was in all the papers and on all the tv news, but I never seem to follow local news these days, my tv is always on national news it seems.

One headline at the time said, “Beloved Miami cardiologist dies from coronavirus complications.” He was beloved.

This was the second doctor of mine that died! Many years ago, my family GP died in an accident. He and his family were in a car accident in New England, I think. I believe he was with his whole family and if I remember right only he and one of the children died in the accident, the wife and the other kids survived. That was a hug shock at the time. I mentioned this to my GP yesterday and he remembered that, too.

Popeye’s, Fauci and me

So yesterday I drove all over the place, dropping off Christmas presents. It was so great to see my family, it’s been so long; so many of them still separated from each other, but I got to see most of them.

My last stop was at my parents, where I brought Popeye’s chicken and we had lunch together. I’m a cartoonist, I had to get Popeye’s. What else?

Speaking of cartooning, I did a couple of caricatures yesterday, one is of me and one is this Dr. Fauci cartoon which was published today. I was watching Dr. Fauci get vaccinated on tv and this came to mind.

As for me. I am trying to join a cartooning organization and they asked for “a short biographical sketch or resume”. I read it wrong and thought they wanted a sketch to use on their website or something, so I did this sketch. I put the sunglasses on because I couldn’t get my eyes right.

I didn’t want to ‘Say Cheese!’

I was talking about film and developing recently. It reminded me of a couple of stories regarding film and cameras.

I had a friend, Vincent, who would take pictures throughout the year and he would put a couple of the prints in the Christmas card he would send you. You would open the card and out would pop a photo of you and friends from July 4th or a birthday party or whatever, from earlier in the year.

When I was in high school I worked at a department store. At one point I worked in the camera department where we sent photos out to be developed. We had a couple of friends, ladies maybe in their 20s, who used to have racy pictures developed every week. It was a regular thing.

People who worked in all different departments of the store used to come by asking if any of their photos were in, returned by the developer. So many people would see the photos, it’s a wonder the ladies never complained about the envelope that the photos came in, it was surely bent and wrinkled and not in the pristine shape the pictures came in. But then again, they probably knew and got a kick out of the whole store seeing their x-rated life.

I remember reading when I was a kid, that there were just a few pictures of Jesee James and Abraham Lincoln and I used to think that was so cool, even though I know why there were only just a few photos. So I decided for most of the 1980s, that I would not be in any photos so when I died, there would only be a few shots of me, like Lincoln.

I don’t think I said anything, I would just slip out of the frame. To this day, I think this is the first time I am telling anyone. It wasn’t a secret, it was just something I did without mentioning it. In many cases, I would offer to take the picture, you know, “Oh Joe! Get in the picture, I’ll take it!”

And so all these years later, I don’t have many, if any images of me from the 1980s, the favorite decade!

Recently one of my cousins put a picture on Facebook, I think from 1989. It was an image of about 25 family members lined up in the backyard. We were all in town for a wedding. And I was missing in the picture! We were all wondering where I was. I couldn’t think of a reason why I wasn’t there either. And then I realized, I probably took the photo after slipping out of the frame. One of my lamebrained ideas. I don’t think I told anyone why, even recently on Facebook, what I did as a joke was Photoshop a current picture of myself into the photo.

I do regret not being in many pictures now. Seeing them would have brought back so many wonderful memories that I forgot about.

Flat tire

I woke up to another flat tire the other morning. I’m always getting flats with my current car. I broke rims, too, in the past – with my current car. I have a portable pump for this reason, how many of you have a portable pump? I get good use out of it too. I am on the second one! The car has outlasted the pumps.

My tire pump at work.

I know I need tires and that is part of the problem, but I’ve been putting it off because any day now I’m due for scheduled service – you know, Schedule A or Schedule B. I don’t know which one, or I would bring the car in early and just get it all done. But I have to wait for the car to tell me which service I need I can’t ask my mechanic, because they do things the old fashioned way, which I like. They basically write your bill on the back of a paper bag. Well, not exactly and I was surprised to see they accept Apple Pay, but they aren’t the type to keep notes or any computer records. And in a way, I like that.

It’s a little bit of what’s left of the old days. Their garage is sort of like Wally’s on the Andy Griffith Show. When I need service, I bring the car early, before the garage is even open, and I leave the keys with the gas station attendant and when the owner/mechanic gets in, he calls me and I tell him what the problem is.

Years ago, I had a Camaro, that was new, yet was always in the shop. The gas station was down the block, so I would bring it or have it towed in late at night and leave it in the back of the station, in the morning, Mike, the owner would call me and we would go from there.

For years I leased cars and there really weren’t problems. I’m noticing a common denominator now. The cars I owned were always in the shop – the leased cars, never. Of course the leased cars were turned in every three years.

Both gas station owners complained about my cars but both wanted them. One owner bought my Camaro years ago and this current one always asks to buy my current car. Go figure.

I am going to go back to leasing cars when I get rid of my current one. There’s a lesson there.

I got towed

My car got towed yesterday. I still am not sure of the circumstances because I was parked in a space that I have been parking in for years. But then again, that’s what they say on Parking Wars the tv show, all the time, so who knows.

You ever watch Parking Wars? It’s rerun a lot on different cable stations. It takes place in different cities like Detroit and Philadelphia – there are different segments, one is booting, so the show is about people booting cars around the cities, another is ticket writing and another is at the towing lot, where you go to pick up your car after it’s towed.

It sounds boring, but it isn’t. It is mostly about people’s reactions and how they handle the situations.

Well, when I saw my car was gone, my Parking Wars knowledge kicked in. I called the towing place and got all the info I needed, you know – the cost, the location to get the car, etc., then I went to the ATM and got cash – you always need cash! You also need your license and proof of insurance according to what I see on tv.

I summoned an Uber and went to the lot. Living in a small town is strange, because as I was Ubering over, I got many texts from people telling me they heard what had happened and they wanted to know if I needed lift to the lot!

To my surprise, when I got to the lot, on a Wednesday afternoon, I was the only one there! I literally was in and out in 10 minutes! From watching the tv shows, I had expected to be there for hours, shuffling from window to window, arguing with the towing people behind the glass windows. But it wasn’t like that.

Unlike the tv show I was able to walk to my car and get my registration without an escort or pass. I also didn’t need to show proof of insurance, which explains a lot about Miami drivers. I literally did not have to show that my car was insured. I think this bothers me more than anything.

After I paid, I was set loose in the lot – alone – I got my car and drove off. All very civilized, nothing like the tv show! The whole experience took about an hour and wasn’t bad. The total cost was about $200.00, which included the towing fee, the parking ticket and the Uber! Not bad, on tv they show people paying lots more money for their infractions.

All in all it was not as bad as I had anticipated.