Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kin and Whatnot

My little metronome dancing in his grandma's arms.
This boy has got the rhythm and has got it bad. He can't crawl down the hallway without stopping to bob his head and shake his big ol diaper booty so long as there is something to rock out to, be it Fela or the washing machine. As long as there is a beat, he is good to go.

My mom, come to think of it, is quite the same. She has always taken every opportunity to turn something into a dance or a song. I admit, I have been known to do the same.

I guess there is something to genetics, after all.

Ahh, beep beep. Ahh, beep beep.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


This kid used to be terrified of water. Now he has gills. All thanks to frequency.

This kid used to be shy on the soccer pitch. Now he gets the taste of blood and he stops at nothing until the ball is in the net. All thanks to frequency.

I want to learn from the youth so I apply this to myself and it checks out. I was born with no great skill of drawing. There might be some inherited genetic predisposition toward the creative but there is no denying that my art when I was a kid sucked. No offense. It only got better- and precisely proportionate to the frequency of which I drew.

Whenever I do school visits I remember being right there in the classroom or gym. I remember thinking older people had some light-switch moment when they all of a sudden got really good at.... everything. Either that, or they were born with magic skills and powers that I was not born with. Bah. Rubbish. I would still suck at drawing had I not been stubborn or interested enough to continue at it. Simple.

Practice makes.......

(here is where all the kids always yell, "PERFECT!" and where I always say, "RRRRRRRRR! Wrong.")

There is no perfect. The best of the best are still getting...... yep, better. So, practice makes better. That's all. No biggie, except that it is a huge biggie. That means this distant dream is obtainable. Just add practice. That and passion. Because otherwise the practice fades into the void faster than the new found interest in using the gym membership.

Take soccer. Me and soccer. We've had quite a run. Played really young (though not as young as me wee brother, who started us all off on it). Played up until high school where several practices in I had a whopper of a knee injury. Skating, not playing soccer, so soccer was the victim here.
Anyway, I tried but wasn't able to pick it up again after than because I kept getting knee injuries and finally got a series of awful, bloody awful surgeries. One and then the other, and then back to the first again. That put me out in narcoland for a few years and when I came to, I found surfing as a physical salvation of sorts. Just as I got into surfing I had my spine injury and so right when I was possibly about to venture back to soccer, I was sidelined again. A few more years of crazyboy gave me plenty to work through, but I kept surfing. That has remained all the while.
A decade or so later, finally, when I was getting too damned fat and my knees hurt all the time and I had no energy and well, anyway, you probably get the pic. Well, then I happened upon a game of pick up soccer and my life was saved again.

It has been five or six years to date and I am certain I have only missed fewer games than I can count on two hands. Twice a week, rain or snow or shine. Frequency. Now, I am no Pato or Neymar, but I feel pretty good about my ability to blast a shot off and hit a fair percentage of them. That and I am not afraid to go toe to toe with anybody. No guarantee I will come out with the ball, but I will sure as hell give it a go. Give it all of a go. That has come purely because of my repetition. It is just what I do.

I have a beer or two in me, pizza is in the oven, and the family is watching some cozy movie in our cozy house but the clock strikes seven and I am out the door like a robot. Snow, ice, baked hard concrete of a field. No matter. I cannot stop this clockwork now. Even when I am injured (and my wife will say that is every time I play) I will instinctively suit up and head to the pitch, even if it means I have to sit and watch with a bum ankle. (I may mention the added but not intended effects of this regimen: dropped 35+ pounds permanently, knees no longer hurt!!!!, back does not hurt nearly as badly nor frequently, though still would get traded in a heart beat if I could figure such a thing out. But those are not the most important benefits. I was dealing with PTSD due to the massive head injury and spine injury and had dabbled in this med and that to try to alleviate the crazy, but none were cool with me. All had unwanted side effects and felt like poison. Turns out, soccer was the pill I was looking for. My mind and heart and soul feel so much more tuned in to my own life and the black cloud that haunted me for so many years has gone the way of gangsta rap. Not gone like extinct, but gone like seldom played on the playlist- but not forgotten. Can I get a HALLELUJAH? Ok, I'll Hallelujah myself. Hang on. HALLELUJAH, Jesse. Hallelujah.)


Apply this to anything. Writing. Drawing. Painting. Music. Critical Thought. Empathy. Mercy. Patience. Self Control. Praying. Being kind to your family. Thinking of yourself in a positive way. You could become a pro at any of those things with frequency. Which reminds me I have a whole lot of work to do so that I can cross all those things off my list. Become perfect at? Never. But better. And better works for me.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ghosts of Pillars Past

Heroes diminish.   

Skin sags 
and vision fails. 

Just as sure as the tide comes in, 
out it also goes. 

And us with it. 

So ...

for now, 
 we dance in the light 
we are given. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Maybe it was the summer after 8th grade... I found myself blinded by the reflection of the South Bay sun. Ten in the morning, head filled with potential, armed with a skateboard. My Walkman was duct taped together and one of the headphones had lost its foam and kept slipping from the sweat of the seven miles I passed on my way to the beach. I smelled the warm, wet, salt breeze that always hinted that summer's cooking oil was working its magic on lovely skin. I smelled that and some sweet, white flowers.

Sand added a silty undertone to the audio track of the soft wheels on the sidewalk. It also locked up my board sometimes and then suddenly I could do nothing but watch myself launched forward into whatever fate had chosen for me that day. Once it was into the arms of a cute girl I was definitely  about two years away from being able to even talk to, and the other was under a diesel truck. The first ended with me, red faced and stumbling backward, too shy to even apologize, and the other ended with a glitch in the matrix.

I hit the patch of sand and was jolted off my board, off the sidewalk, and into oncoming traffic. I had a clear view of the axle of the truck approaching. And then, instantly, I was back on the sidewalk.

I was headed for a trucky doom and somehow, without any way of explaining it, I was back in one piece, on the sidewalk.

Has my memory been spooled back, clipped, and then reconnected with scotch tape like my old Thompson Twins cassettes? Did this even happen? I gotta stick with yes. Yes it did.

Then again...

What if I died back then? What if every moment after that has been just the lucid dream of a 13 year old's purgatorial mind? Lost? Jacob's Ladder? Been done, eh? Oh well. Worth a shot.

Anyway, never mind the distraction. Here is what I was listening to when I fell into my glitch. A long story just to say that this song is pretty rad. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear Mr. Watson,

My favorite byproduct of work I do. By a long shot! These kids at Pioneer Valley Elementary were such awesome hosts for my day of author visits. I had a wonderful time hanging out with them and when I get the pics from the teachers I will post them. These two letters from second graders were my top picks, though they were all wonderful and brimming with nice vibes I am so LUCKY to absorb.

The top letter has this child's versions of my book covers, Hope for Haiti, and I and I. I think it is rad that they edited the title to one that worked for them. And the art is mighty fine, as well.

One love, kiddos. One love.

Monday, May 21, 2012

new work

New Work

Ink and Acrylic on Baltic Birch


This commission/trade was a piece I worked on for just about nine months. 

I am working on a picture book with Putnam that promises to be a really exciting change for me. The author has a great story that seems tailored for my art style. I will post info when I am able. 

I am also working on jacket art for an upcoming novel. 

My stories, in their various states of evolution, are brewing right along. Never know when one of those might be ripe for picking but I will be ready. 

Now, about summer...